THE FACETS OF AUSTRALIAN FASCISM.09.02.

June 12, 2018 | Author: V. Dr. Venturini | Category: Documents


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THE FACETS OF AUSTRALIAN FASCISM The Abbott government experience SUB-TROPICAL FASCISM, THE AUSTRALIAN WAY by George Venturini * (@ October 2012) The word ‘Fascist’ has become a term of abuse, rarely employed in Australia, quite often by people who are short of arguments, and in many cases by people who do not know precisely what the word means. A clarification is essential before proceeding. Fascism, historically speaking, was a bloody political movement which was linked with Syndicalist-Corporativism. It was born in Italy, existed just 21 years, between 1922 and 1943. There was a criminal ’coda’ on the service of the German occupiers between 1943 and 1945. Any better definition has proved contentious. Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have engaged in long debates concerning the exact nature of Fascism and its core tenets. Most scholars agree that a ‘fascist regime’ is foremost an authoritarian form of government, although not all authoritarian regimes are fascist. In the recent past there have been at least three attempts at setting down the defining attributes of a fascist movement. One was seminal: L.W. Britt, ‘Fascism anyone?’, Free Inquiry Magazine, Vol 22 no 2 (July 2003). Two others more specifically referred to Australia: A. Broinowski, ‘A fascist Australia?’ (2006), accessible at http://webdiary.com.au/cms. and: G. Hassan, ‘The Rise and Rise of Super Fascism’ (2011), accessible at http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_61883.shtml. The two Australian scholars followed Dr. Britt’s categorisations; they agreed on fourteen of them. And they had all been preceded by the eminent philosopher U. Eco in ‘Eternal Fascism: Fourteen ways of looking at a blackshirt’, The New York Review of Books (June 1995). With respect, none of those efforts is completely satisfactory for reasons too long to explain here. Naturally, most of the basic elements on which they concentrate are present in Australia. None of those writers, however, provided a definition. One will be attempted by way of 2 conclusion. Of course, there are many elements of comparison, and they are shared between Australia and Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and National-Catholic Spain. Comparisons could be drawn from time to time in the following presentation which respects the order of points common to the above scholars, particularly to Dr. Broinowski. But the presentation is more by way of a hypothesis than of a thesis. 1 The first element of an Australian Fascism is nationalism. This is expressed in its widest ramifications: ostentation of flags and lapel pins by way of re-assurance and self- confirmation of and in patriotism, uniforms from the cradle to the grave, an always ill- disguised sense of superiority and reference to ‘race’ - in Australia ‘the white race’, the cultivation, nurturing and indoctrination from early years of cliché views of life, accompanied with the use of symbols and slogans, sublimating in a quasi-religious respect for military ‘tradition’ and its representatives, all of which more often than not leads to an attitude to other people bordering on and often culminating in xenophobia. Since the arrival of the British to establish a penal colony in 1788, hence the invasion of someone else’s land, Australians have participated, officially and unofficially, in conflicts in New Zealand 1845,1860-61; Sudan 1885; South Africa, 1899-1902; China 1900-01; on several fronts during the first world war, 1914-18; Russia 1919-21; on several fronts during the second world war, 1939-47; Malaya, 1948-60; Korea, 1950-53; Indonesian ‘confrontation’, 1962-66; Malaya-Malaysia, 1964-66; Vietnam, 1963-75; Thailand, 1965-68; Somalia, 1992-94; East Timor 1999-2203; Afghanistan, 2001 -; Iraq, 2003-2009. The loss of Australian lives is close to 103,000. On at least two occasions the Australian people was lied to by its governments: by Prime Minister Robert Menzies about Vietnam and by Prime Minister John Howard about Afghanistan and Iraq. In all other cases, barring some aspects of the second world war, the ‘enemy’ was ‘over there’, unknown and un-identifiable, except in the crassest way: it was brown, red, yellow. It was always a threat to ‘the national interest’ - from time to time invoked by politicians, disrespected at all times but when they sent the best of youth to the slaughter. At those times obedience became blind, un-questioned - the lack of it always considered un-patriotic. Such un-reasoned attitude to life, the result of planned 3 ignorance, has been fuelling in a xenophobic attitude which has only recently been clothed but not suppressed by some un-defined ‘multiculturalism’. The figure of about 103,000 war dead does not include ‘white’ Australians who died in the wars against the original inhabitants, the Blacks of Australia - whose systematic extermination began in 1788 and is said to have terminated at Coniston, Northern Territory, where the massacre went on between August and October 1928. The fate of the Blacks continues in other forms of government ‘intervention’. And this has left, in the memorable words of Henry Reynolds, “a whispering in our hearts.” Violence abroad is as Australian as drinking beer. Violence at home is accepted for the most incredible non-reasons. So it is ‘alright’ that, as Russel Ward wrote, “in April 1974 Her Australian Majesty’s loyal opposition behaved more like a gang of fascist thugs than responsible politicians in a democratic country.” It was even ‘more-alright’ that a just meliorist, twice-elected, tormented Whitlam Government should fall victim in November 1975 to a coup by Royal-C.I.A.-Agrarian Socialists and other back-stage-powerbrokers, who had been scared out of their scanty wits, in an ambush performed by an habitually-drunk Governor-General. ‘Respectability’ and ‘stability’ would be returned by the hand of Malcolm Fraser, the beneficiary of the Royal Ambush, who for seven years as prime minister almost succeeded in his avowed ambition to govern so quietly that political news would be replaced in the headlines by ‘sporting intelligence’. The Australian is one of the most violent societies of similar physiognomy - probably the second most violent after the United States. Silence shrouds certain types of social violence. Suicide kills more Australians than die in road accidents - already at a pick. In 2008 - according to the most recent figures available - 2,191 people took their own lives, while the annual road toll has fallen below 1,400. For the past decade suicide numbers have hovered around 2,050 a year - on a population of 22.5 million. The facts are not widely known because of medieval stigma, prejudice, ignorance and a centuries-old taboo which once barred those who had taken their own lives from burial in the local cemetery. One should understand here: Christian burial. Fascism being essentially irrational, un-reasoning and violent the tag fits a certain view of Australia. 4 2 Demonisation and marginalisation of those who are ‘different’ - ‘difference’ being an important concept which has a particular meaning in everyday’s language as spoken in Australia - may lead to the acceptance in war and even in peace that respect for persons branded from time to time as ‘the enemy’ or ‘different’ is not necessarily owed - as it is said to be professed - to Australians. ‘The other’ is not necessarily Australian. S/he is not sufficiently patriotic, but Communist, terrorist, or as defined from time to time. The goals of such exclusion from civilised norms are furthered by the use of propaganda, often passed through the media: newspapers, private radio and television stations, even through the so- called ‘education’ system, which is, with rare exceptions, an ‘indoctrination’ system and strongly classist. The three levels of that system are essentially: primary = minding centres; secondary = bad jokes; and tertiary = solemn farces. Disinformation is assisted by secrecy and official denials. Human rights are occasionally spoken of, but more frequently ignored in the interest of ‘national security’ and according to ‘need’. Conformism and indoctrination being the functions of ‘schooling’, it comes to no one’s surprise that there may be cases when looking the other way is necessary ‘in the national interest’. And if torture be complained of, it certainly does not happen in Australia - of course. Of course, there is a world of difference between summary executions as practiced in ‘dictatorial regimes’ and incarceration as practiced in Australia. But what of incarceration as practiced elsewhere, and favoured, tolerated and ignored when practiced by ‘our ally’, our Great-And-Powerful-Friend ? Every year Amnesty International Reports document the state of human rights: in 2009 it did so across 159 countries. The 2012 Report noted that, although important gains had been made, accountability and effective justice seemed a remote ideal for many, as people’s lives continued to be torn apart by repression, violence and political stalemates. The Report opened thusly: “Australia continued to violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples, stripping essential services from Aboriginal homelands. Refugee policy favoured deterrence, with mandatory, indefinite and remote detention for asylum-seekers arriving by boat.” Events in 5 2009 had already confirmed that two formidable obstacles stand in the way to justice for all. The first is the fact that powerful states continue to stand above the law, outside effective international scrutiny. The other is that powerful states manipulate the law, shielding their allies from scrutiny and pushing for accountability mainly when politically expedient. In so doing they provide a pretext to other states or block of states to politicise justice in the same way. Three cases in particular demonstrate that, when in difficulty over the alleged behaviour by some of its subjects, Australia abandons them. David Hicks, Australia-born, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, sold to American Special Forces by their allies for US$ 1,000, transported to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, repeatedly tortured, tried by a so-called special tribunal, found guilty and returned to Australia in 2007 under certain restrictive conditions. He had been abandoned by the Howard Government. That government’s Attorney-General even went to the extent of writing that sleep- depravation is not a form of torture. Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian born Australian Muslim was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2001, ‘renditioned’ to Egypt, tortured there and subsequently at Guantánamo, where he was kept until 2005. According to Habib, an Australian consular officer was present to his torture in Egypt. The Howard Government’s Foreign Minister publicly challenged Habib's claims to torture, saying “no evidence has been found to prove that torture has been used at the camp.” Query: did the government ever inquire about the claim of torture ? At the end of April 2011 the unrepentant former foreign minister found time to express his belief that both Hicks and Habib were “terrible people - absolutely shocking” ! A better know case is that of Julian Assange, presently a ‘fugitive from justice’ holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He recently lost the appeal against a February 2011 decision by an English court to extradite him to Sweden for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation. He has said the allegations of wrongdoing are “without basis.” The Australian Ambassador in Stockholm wrote to the Swedish Justice Minister and asked her to ensure that the “case would proceed in accordance with due process and the provisions prescribed under Swedish law.” Assange laments that the Rudd/Gillard Government and then 6 the Gillard Government have abandoned him, there having been no further contact with him since December 2010. He also charges those governments with having passed ‘compromising’ information to the United States Government, which may want to send Assange to trial for treason. What is important in all this is the ‘flexibility’ with which the Australian Government approaches its international law obligations: no respect of the Indigenous People, no respect of the human rights of asylum seekers, no respect of those who fall short of the accepted norms of ‘good living’ according to Australian rules - in other words a self-definition of what constitutes law and order in the slogan ‘law-and-order’, which could be uttered by any authoritarian, un-democratic, ultimately fascist regime. Hicks was a converted Muslim, Habib is the real thing, Assange is nothing less than a troublemaker. He abides by Orwell’s dictum that “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Amnesty International 2010 State of the World’s Human Rights Report noted that Australia took positive action on human rights in 2009 by signing the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, committing to a National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, and ceasing to charge asylum-seekers for the cost of their detention. However, during the same period, Indigenous People continued to be discriminated against throughout the Northern Territory and asylum seekers who arrived by boat continued to be detained on Christmas Island, where they are granted fewer rights and less access to services than those who arrived by plane. These discriminatory policies remain in place. Protests and riots by asylum-seeker detainees have occurred every month in 2011. In 2010 Amnesty International also highlighted the government’s failure to implement a national Human Rights Act despite the recommendation of its own National Human Rights Consultation Committee, and the discriminatory freeze on processing of asylum claims from Afghan and Sri Lankan nationals. “As a member of the G20, Australia has a real opportunity to lead by example, but to do this it must stop putting political self-interest ahead of its legal responsibilities and deliver on its commitments to human rights.” Claire Mallinson, National Director, Amnesty International 7 Australia said. By freezing the processing of asylum applications from people fleeing two of the world’s most violent conflict zones: Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, the Australian Government failed to fulfil its international legal responsibilities. This is a glaring example of a government placing political self-interest above upholding its human rights responsibilities and the well-being of those in need. Despite some promising steps, Australia is continuously failing to deliver sustainable, long- term solutions to human rights problems. 3 No authoritarian, un-democratic, fascist regime would refrain from scapegoating a minority as a tool of domination of the masses. Examples are still staring in one’s face: Mussolini blamed strikes on the workers because they were led by subversives, meaning by that Socialists - of whom he had been one - and Communists - to whose left he had been when he was an atheist-syndicalist. Hitler narrowed the ‘targeted’ group: it had been the Jews who, through their speculations, ‘had lost the first world war for Germany’. Franco attempted to justify his coup against the Spanish Republic - and found great comfort in that from the Catholic Church - on the ground that it had fallen prey of Judeo-Masonic-Communists. In all this the wearing of the ‘right’ shirt against that of the ‘wrong’ colour - or no specific colour - is very important. So Mussolini prescribed his to be black, Hitler brown and Franco blue. Depending on ‘need’, it is easy to see the progression in the famous statement by Pastor Martin Niemöller – roughly as follows: “First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.” Then he was not a trade unionist, and a Jew, a Liberal, an atheist, a secularist, et cetera. Finally, they - the Nazis - had come for him, “and there was no one left to speak out for [him].” But what if somebody is a homosexual - or a Muslim ? Things may be quite different then. There are often matters over which public ‘discussion’ is encouraged - if it can be controlled. They are, of course, just distractions from issues which really matter. But they 8 make for good entertainment and find courageous paladins in the most august venues. Quite recently a ‘Liberal’ senator spent an inordinate amount of time, in the Senate, on radio interviews, and newspaper articles to advocate the banning of the burqa. The learned senator succinctly stated the grounds for his proposition: “Equality of women is one of the key values in our secular society and any culture that believes only women should be covered in such a repressive manner is not consistent with the Australian culture and values.” This is just a smoke-screen: equality of women is not a value in Australia - it does not exist; and the society is not secular - the head of state is still the defender of the Anglican religion; Parliaments still open with invocations to a Christian god; court witnesses are proffered a King James’ Bible for oath-taking, et cetera. ‘Culture’ in every day jargon is a very fluid concept, more often than not an empty vessel; one would be very hard put to look for ‘Australian values’ anywhere. To substantiate his case the ‘Liberal’ senator referred to a then recent case of robbery in Sydney by a burqa-wearing bandit. As the learned senator reported, “The bandit was described by police as being of ‘Middle Eastern appearance’.” Balaclava-wearing bandits are unknown to the senator. And, assuming but not conceding that the burqa is a requirement in professing one’s faith, trying to take seriously for a short moment the senator’s call, one wonders how many people he has actually seen wearing a burqa in Australia. What would the senator suggest next: that the Jews who congregate in certain suburbs, particularly in Melbourne, should not wear their shtreimels - the fur hat worn by many married ultra- Orthodox Jewish men - in public because it is ‘un-Australian’ ? Of course the senator would not dare suggesting that nuns in traditional habit look very much like women in burqas, and monks moving about in sandals and dressing gowns are typically Australian. What would the senator say of those various eastern orthodox Catholic priests with their bizarre attires ? Would some priests and Jews with their ‘un-Australian’ funny little skull caps upset the senator ? And what to say of all those new Australian women subjects who came from Africa and continue to wear in public traditional African dresses ? Translated into plain English what the ‘Liberal’ senator means is: curtail, and if possible stop the entry of Muslims, because they tip the well-balanced Judeo-Christian society on which Australia is said to be founded. The real substance is of a much cruder kind and is 9 demonstrated by the shadow minister for immigration enjoining his ministerial colleagues, at a meeting of the Shadow Ministry in December 2010, to use community concerns about ‘Muslim immigration’ for the Opposition's political advantage. It is not a pleasant view, and the Opposition has no monopoly of narrow-mindedness, bigotry, and base calculations. One of the most common tools of fascist propaganda is scapegoating of people from minorities. In Europe, even before the events of 11 September 2001, Muslims were identified as enemies, accused of ‘taking-over’ Europe. Those events offered an opportunity to justify attacking the scapegoats, Islam and Muslims. Following the bad examples coming from Europe, but also from the United States, and Australia, Muslims are often unfairly portrayed in Australia - by radio talk-show hosts who feature material which is deliberately offensive, vulgar, and sufficiently suggestive of racist views - as terrorists, anti-women and violent in order to justify social discrimination and to sustain injustices. 4 The following data are taken from a table of the top 15 countries with the highest military expenditure for 2009 published in the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook 2010 using current market exchange rates in 2009 US dollars: Australia ranks fourteen; it spent 19.0 billion, equal to a share of 1.8 per cent of 2008 Gross Domestic Product, or a 1.2 per cent of world share. Australia’s defence expenditure has increased by 50 per cent between 1989 and 2007. The Government allocated AU$ 22 billion to the Australian Defence Organisation in the 2007-08 financial year. In the 2006-07 budget, the Government announced that it would continue to increase real Defence spending by at least 3 per cent each year until 2015-16. The Labor Party promised during the 2007 federal election campaign to maintain defence spending if elected to office. As Broinowski noted: “Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected.” The ‘Australian Defence Force’ is a misnomer. It has mainly four functions: 1) to 10 serve overseas in support of other governments’ decisions, 2) to employ weapons which are force-sold to Australia because of the power of the military-industrial complex of Australia’s Great-And-Powerful-Friend, 3) to pursue intimidation and/or invasion of other countries, while maintaining the ‘tradition’ of militarism as a source of male dominance if not of machismo, an expression of nationalism; 4) a limited function as coastguard. Militarism and nationalism are like twins joined at the side. They live and thrive on rhetoric with frequent recourse to the Crown, the (Dysfunctional) Royal Family, the (foreign) flag, and the totally melancholic, often morbid, tribute to the dead which takes place ‘that one day of the year’ , 25 April - Anzac Day. That is the day - as Dave Warner once said - when ‘we march our march and we drink our beer’. It is on that day that everyone who is said to have died for Australia is ‘honoured’ - by marching and getting high on beer. Anyone who knows a little history would remember that marching has always been regarded by dictatorial regimes as a needed substitute for thought. Large consumption of beer helps to blur fact from myth. Thus the landing at Gelibolu, which is the name of the place Australians, New Zealanders and British invaded in 1915 with absolutely disastrous consequences, has become a ‘sacred day’ in ‘secular’ Australia. And thus the confusion between history, myth, reminiscing and fabulae raves up, with the risk of serious consequences if one were to attempt to re-establish the truth on the occasion. After that, everything is permitted, in the name of laconicism and that grand, all embracing, all soothing resource which is ‘mateship’. This, of course, is regarded as an exclusive Australian quality. No other returning soldiers, whether volunteers or conscripted, in other countries are allowed to possess it. Gelibolu was an ill lost battle from which no good came; it never ‘tested a young country’s mettle’ and did not ‘show what game young men can do.’ It gave Turkey a nation founding hero, Ataturk, and Australia almost a century of bloodstained hypocrisy. And there seems to be no end to it. Questions are never asked, of the simplest kind such as: why warring against Maoris in New Zealand in 1845 ? and what on earth were ‘colonial’ Australians doing in Khartoum in 1885, or against Boers in South Africa, or ‘federated’ Australians in Russia in the 1920s ? 11 Treasonable would be to ask: why should our youth continue to be cannon fodder for the financial advantage of weapon-manufacturers, offending countries and people they have never visited, defending on someone else’s land our power élite, their miners, banksters, money-makers, pimps, and establishment we hardly ever use to our own advantage ? Asking that would be, and so is, taught from cradle to grave to be un-patriotic, un-Australian. 5 Rampant sexism was early identified as one of the characteristics of a fascist regime. Modern authoritarian regimes may pretend to be outwardly egalitarian, and anyway it is ‘popular’ to appear nothing but egalitarian. The reality is quite different. ‘Traditional’ gender roles remain, albeit covertly, quite rigid. Women remain unequal at all level of life. There is unequal economic treatment, despite the fact that for about forty years the ‘right’ to equal treatment has been preached by every aspiring politician. There is social inequality. It is implied in the machismo which still pervades certain occupations, even in such limited fields as life-saving formations. It is fuelled by the media, seventy per cent foreign-controlled, and profusely devoted to the representation of women as objects of sexual, even if only visual, satisfaction. Coincidentally, publicity of all kind exploits and emphasises a woman’s beauty as a lure for selling everything: from furniture to vacuum-cleaners, not to mention cosmetics, of course. Such inequality ‘slides’ not so gently in areas as the military, where women may be excluded from the very beginning - example: ‘cadet’ training at school, and - if admitted - may continue under the unfair, discriminatory, and often abusive treatment to which women are subjected in the Defence Forces. There is currently the periodical investigation of sexual harassment of women in the Australian Navy. The latest foreign adventure, in Afghanistan, was ‘justified’, at least initially by the ‘mission to liberate women’. Presently, the mission is that of training part of the Afghan Army - and a woman Prime Minister said so in the Australian Parliament as recently as November 2011. At the end of April 2011 she has hardened her uncompromising position on North Korea’s nuclear programme, at a time when 12 diplomats say that the isolated regime is reaching out to talk, and despite North Korea’s attempted overtures to American and European diplomats about restarting those talks. Zeal ? Bloody-mindedness ? Stupidity ? Servility ? On 24 March 2011 all media were abuzz over the then latest scandal: allegations of Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan having posted ‘racist’ remarks and videos on a social network site. Because the word ‘racist’ has become as abused as others in the new- language, one should begin by clarifying that the soldiers had referred to the Prime Minister as a ‘fucking ranga’. Now, ranga is a local corruption of the word Orangutan, a red-haired animal, well-known for its fiery temper and pale skin - carrying the implication that the female of the species is good in bed, combining its natural aggression with its lack of appreciation for its looks. In lavatory language, it refers specifically to a redhead female, who presumably has red pubic hair. People of light complexion and with red hair are likely to sunburn easily. Discrimination against people with red hair and pale skin stems from English name-calling of Celts. Some videos recorded the soldiers as referring to Afghanis as ‘rag-heads’, ‘dune coons’, niggers’, ‘sand niggaz’ - a gift from the Great-And-Powerful-Friend: it is the plural of nigga, a word which describes ‘ignorant-African-Americans’ - and ‘smelly locals’. The former prime minister and for a while foreign minister was also not spared some lurid comments. By the evening of 25 March the television stations hosted a procession of personalities: the Defence Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Air Marshall Chief of the Defence appeared, and all with the customary air of contrition mixed with embarrassment to explain how they had apologised, and all to display a sense of surprise. Alas, people old enough remember that the deplored terms are on par with those used forty years ago by Australians, particularly during the Vietnam invasion, with reference to the local: ‘coons’ and ‘gooks’, as well as ‘chinks’ - broadly for people with an Asian appearance, ‘niggers’ - for people with darker skin - including American Blacks, ‘Lebo’ - with an assumed Lebanese background, et cetera. 13 If the ‘mission’ in Afghanistan was that of ‘winning the hearts and minds’ - as it was in Vietnam - all one can say is: it failed in Vietnam. From Afghanistan ? it is time to bring the troops home. At home behaviour was no better: early this year a young woman, barely 18, was standing before the commander of the prestigious Australian Defence Force Academy. She was in trouble for having had sexual intercourse with an army cadet who had thought no better than broadcast the event by Skype to half a dozen fellow cadets sitting in a nearby room. Distraught, the young woman went to a commercial channel and told the story - in anticipated self-defence. Once again the Minister for Defence and the Chief of Defence Force went on television and radio to express their puritanical indignation - “abhorrent” but “isolated” said the Chief, to welcome an investigation, to threaten vindication as if the item was news. Perhaps what was news is that the victim this time went outside the system. There had been episodes of improper behaviour and investigation of predatory sexual practices, drunkenness and indiscipline in the Navy, for years and years. A lengthy report was issued in February 2011. Radio and television had a field week, with much ado and salacious ‘revelations’ - porno really. Seriously, a former cadet at A.D.F.A., now a prominent barrister, wrote a piece to describe the physical, sexual and psychological abuse to which he had been subjected twenty years ago. He did so, needless to say, under condition of anonymity. In his view, after all the investigations, “a culture of abuse ... has not changed in 20 years.” Collaterally, a male-dominated parliamentary system - at all levels, whether federal or state - is reluctant to recognise the right of women to decide on matters which relate exclusively to their own body; an anti-abortion attitude, solid under all circumstances, is maintained by parliamentarians of the major parties. Simultaneously, a subtle homophobic attitude pervades the view of those parties. Of course, it is not declared, because that may have serious electoral consequences. Both behaviours, anti-abortion and homophobia, are grounded on the ‘traditional values’ of a society which proclaims itself founded on Judeo-Christian principles and, at the same time, wishes to be seen as ‘secular’. That is a maladroit attempt at having things both-ways - and damned the inconsistencies. Only those who know nothing of the essential Philistinism which pervades Australian society would find it easy to believe it. 14 There is educational inequality: education of women is second best in a system which already is not at the internationally competitive top universally respected, and is blocked in the opportunities that real education could open. A fascist regime is essentially ‘virile’: domestically, it sells beer, abroad it fights wars. 6 Media ownership laws in Australia have remained unchanged for over a decade, although debate on the desirability of reform has continued - desultorily and inconclusively. This debate has been fuelled by the impact of new media technologies, a number of inquiries proposing regulatory changes, and the self-interest of those media organisations which report the controversy. The Australian Government has long indicated that the rules are anachronistic, but hardly any meaningful change has been proposed. The declared purpose of the intended legislation is to encourage diversity in the ownership of the most influential forms of the commercial media: the daily press and free-to-air television and radio. That is the theory, the practice is something else. The intended, major effect of the laws is to prevent the common ownership of newspapers, television and radio broadcasting licences which serve the same region. The justification for the rules is that the effective functioning of a democracy requires a diverse ownership of the daily mass media to ensure that public life be reported in a fair and open manner. The legal position is complex. Under placitum 51(v) of the Australian Constitution legislative control of broadcasting is contained in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Generic controls relating to commercial activity are covered by the provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975, both as amended, and both badly administered. They are supported by the Commonwealth’s powers regarding trade and corporations under sections 51(i) and 51(xx) of the Constitution. Australia mass media are concentrated into the hands of a very small number of proprietors. For example, 11 of the 12 major newspapers in Australia are owned by News Ltd., a 15 subsidiary of News Corporation Inc., which is a foreign entity controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family. News Ltd. has interests in more than one hundred national, metropolitan, regional and suburban newspapers throughout the country. In terms of its share of circulation, it has: 68 per cent of the capital city and national newspaper market, 77 per cent of the Sunday newspaper market, 62 per cent of the suburban newspaper market, and 18 per cent of the regional newspaper market. News’ holdings include Queensland Press Ltd., jointly owned by Cruden Investments - Murdoch’s own company - and News Corporation. Other News Ltd. media interests are AAP Information Services - jointly controlled with Fairfax, a 25 per cent stake in Foxtel - pay TV, and News Interactive - an online service. Most of the other newspapers are controlled by John Fairfax Holdings, which is an Australian publishing group, until recently with no single dominant shareholder; and there is a sizeable foreign participation. Fairfax newspapers have the following circulation shares: 21 per cent of the capital city and national newspaper market, 22 per cent of the Sunday newspaper market, 17 per cent of the suburban newspaper market, and 16 per cent of the regional newspaper market. Other Fairfax interests are AAP Information Services - jointly controlled with News Ltd., and the Fairfax Interactive Network - an online service. Much of the everyday main stream news is drawn from the Australian Associated Press. Rural and regional media are dominated by Rural Press Ltd. which is held by John Fairfax Holdings. Daily Mail and General Trust operates the DMG Radio Australia commercial radio networks in metropolitan and regional areas of Australia. The company currently own more than 60 radio stations across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. In practical terms, Murdoch - who incidentally is an American citizen - controls the Australian media: News Ltd. dominates regional and suburban newspaper publishing industry. In addition News Corporation controls Fox News - popularly known as Faux News. The Australian people have fewer different voices upon which to make their decisions than almost any other people in the so-called free world. Murdoch does not mind and, with 16 indifference worthy of a sultan, is quite happy that some Australians feel like living in a Murdochracy. There is, however, a suffocating supply of sport services. And ‘that’ matters: some bread and many circuses. For years some journalists have complained about Murdoch’s autocratic and unprincipled style of demanding that his newspapers publish distorted accounts of the news to suit him. True or not that that may be, particularly in that it is hard to provide proof of the assertion, it is not hard to conclude that, in the presence of a proprietor who controls seventy per cent of the press, democracy is bound to suffer. Even if positive proof were readily available, there is no court before which such evidence can be adduced or which could decide on the issue. The Australian people are not interested. The media and the ‘entertainment’ industry important tasks are the coercion and indoctrination of the population from early childhood. Most successive governments of both available hues are timorous of doing anything to guarantee freedom of the press and information for fear of losing Murdoch’s support come election time. If all else fails, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats are put to work. Some constraint to such power might have been tried by introducing regulations which forbid holding more than two media outlets - whether print, radio or television - in a single area. The latest timorous experiment was tried in 2007; it failed and nothing has been done since. The Howard Government ‘discovered’ in the Internet a new source of diversity, and a pretext for doing nothing. The reasoning is fallacious, and demonstrably so: Internet may be an alternative source of information, but is not accessible to everyone and cannot be regarded as a competitive force against the oligopolistic power of corporations such as News Inc. Almost by way of definition, concentration of the power of information in a few hands is the antinomy of democracy. The profession of journalism has been so discredited by owners such as Murdoch in Australia, or Berlusconi in Italy, and other mono/oligopolists elsewhere, that work at a newspaper now is - by and large - no more than an ultimate exercise in public relations. 17 Very often the printed press reports nothing more than what is concocted by public relations corporations. Some Australian political representatives may occasionally complain about the tyranny of the 24 hour news-cycle, but most of them have adjusted to the ‘new reality’ and almost all of them have made it a dutiful part of their anointment to go in pilgrimage to New York and dine or sup with Murdoch. Rudd did it, and Gillard followed the ritual in March 2011. Upon their return they settle down at the place designed by The System, and the ‘spin’ begins in earnest. Objectivity does not exist in corporate media, and ‘free speech’ is free if the ruling élite likes it. While the rhetoric of ‘free media’ is prevalent in most ‘western’ countries, a culture of censorship - if not self-censorship - is widespread even by the most ‘independent’ and ‘alternative’ media outlets. Good journalism, a very honourable profession in different times, is very demanding. It calls for dedication, wide and continuing education, effort, time and money. Except for money, holding the other elements is not necessary and could provide an unemployment card for many aspiring journalists. The last thing a fascist regime would want is the type of journalism which has the dignity of an old profession, cares about the facts, is capable of distinguish them from propaganda, and talks the truth to power. According to Reporters Without Borders in 2011-12 Australia was in thirtieth position - down from nineteenth in 2010 - on a list of countries ranked by Press Freedom, well behind the first five: Finland, Norway, Estonia, Netherlands and Austria, quite behind Iceland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Capo Verde, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland and two steps below the United Kingdom, but way above the United States. The ranking is somewhat affected by the limited diversity in media ownership. The problem has even created a show in itself - Media Watch on a government funded station Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is one of two government administered commercial channels, the other being Special Broadcasting Service. 7 18 National security, a concept which travels together with that of terrorism - and anti- terrorism, is as old as history, is not subject to definition, but has almost always been used by those in power. It has become a matter of expanding interest and mushrooming legislation which are directly proportional to the decrease of basic resources. It is now placed well beyond doubt that the assault on the Greater Middle East has been motivated by an increasing search for oil. A planned 1,800 kilometre pipeline from Turkmenistan to a seaport to be built on Pakistan’s Arabian Sea coast had been on the drawing board years before the outrage of 11 September 2001. That outrage was simply the pretext for armed intervention. Australia followed the leader without questioning, as it becomes a vassal state. Needless to say there have been serious ‘blowback’ consequences - broadly speaking a further reduction of the already limited civil liberties in Australia. That does not seem to be a matter of great concern to the even better than average Australian, who is told - and would mindlessly repeat - that there are sufficient guarantees in the common law, and if one has ‘done nothing wrong, one should have nothing to worry’. This poses a serious contest between knowledge and ignorance, in which who and what ‘wins’ does not really matter, because a power élite - and not necessarily represented by governments - has concluded that it is so: there is ‘the law’ to protect civil liberties, and there is a multitude of defences in the numerous anti-terrorism laws enacted since 2001, and supplementing the already draconian provisions of laws such as the Crimes Act 1914. Federal legislation relating to terrorism as at 11 September 2001 was already available in 32 acts of Parliament. In addition there are in the criminal law of Australia provisions relating to the crime of sedition. Effectively dormant for nearly half a century, these provisions were returned to public notice in 2005. New provisions have been added. They are, principally: - short term detention for named individuals: without evidence, and without criminal involvement. The detainee may be interrogated by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation - A.S.I.O. Disclosing that an individual has been so detained or interrogated is, in almost all circumstances, a crime. 19 - control orders: potential for almost unlimited restrictions on named individuals: freedom of movement; freedom of association - including one’s lawyer; banning the performing of named actions and owning named items - including actions and things necessary to earn a living; unlimited requirements to be, or not to be, at specified places at any or all times of the day and week; wearing a tracking device; and including encouragement to submit to ‘re- education’. These restrictions may be inflicted for a period of one year before review. - significant restrictions on the right of any person to express certain opinions: including criticism, or ‘urging disaffection’, of the sovereign, the constitution, the government, the law, or ‘different groups’. Exemptions may exist where the target of criticism is agreed to be ‘in error’. Exemptions appear to exist where the claim is that a feature of a group of people is in some way offensive to the mainstream of society; onus of proof of goodwill is on the defendant - there is no presumption of innocence. - It becomes a crime, punishable by life imprisonment, recklessly to provide funds to a potential terrorist. Funds include money and equivalents and also assets. It is not necessary that the culprit know the receiver to be a terrorist, only that s/he is reckless about the possibility. It is not even necessary that the receiver be a terrorist, only that the first person be reckless about the possibility that s/he might be. - Police can request information from any source about any named person: any information about the person’s residence, telephone calls, travel, financial transactions amongst other information. Professional privilege does not apply. It may be an offence to disclose that relative documents have been obtained. - A legislative provision for ‘hoax offences’ will create a more serious charge for people who cause chaos for the public and emergency services by dreaming up devastating terrorist- inspired hoaxes. Australia as a country has no direct interest in Central Asia Gas Pipeline, Ltd., CentGas or its successors. The Prime Minister confirmed as early as March 2011 that Australia’s ‘mission’ will be that of training the troops which will guard the pipeline as it passes through Afghanistan in the province of Uruzgan. The training should be completed in one-two years. The ‘mission’ is likely to continue indefinitely, its purpose to be redefined as necessary. No 20 one seems to have thought that such training is designed to have cousins kill cousins, as soon as the ‘liberators’ will have departed, if ever - and the futility of it all. Australia has suffered several acts of terrorism. The connection between al-Qaeda and such acts has never been established with certainty. As a result, some egregious outrages have been committed in the name of ‘national security’ and in the pursuit of anti-terrorism legislation. Any government would be embarrassed just on hearing the name of Dr. Haneef - but not the Australian. Dr. Muhamed Haneef is a thirty-two year old Indian doctor who was wrongly accused of aiding terrorists, and left Australia upon cancellation of his visa amid great political controversy. Haneef was arrested early in July 2007 at Brisbane Airport on suspicion of terror-related activities. He is the second cousin once removed of Kafeel Ahmed and Sabeel Ahmed, the operatives in the 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack. Haneef’s ensuing detention became the longest-without-charge in recent Australian history, and caused great controversy in Australia and India. Public outcry over the incident was further increased when the Australian Government denied Haneef the presumption of innocence. At the end of December 2010 the Government issued a ‘quiet apology’. The now Opposition, responsible for that gross violation of civil liberties, displayed an aggressive refusal to apologise. There have been other cases, not as glamorous, of victimisation of persons in Australia - and not all so visibly foreign. Around lofty proclaimed intentions on ‘national security’ there has developed a veritable industry. Next February IIR's National Security Australia Conference will convene in Melbourne for its Eleventh Anniversary. This is how the event is advertised: “Now in its 11th year National Security Australia is the nation’s leading National Security Forum. It provides a highly dynamic opportunity to market your products and services in front of the most senior Australian and international security experts. This year, the event boasts a larger exhibition area and the commercial opportunity available for organisations is exceptional. Your presence is a critical move toward positioning yourself as a key player in the industry.” The Conference will be organised by IIR Conferences, which offers high quality business information for the Australian and New Zealand market. Business operators, academics, government representatives, police representatives, and anyone properly ‘screened’ by IIR 21 will be able to attend. Presumably, persons regarded as un-patriotic, un-Australian - even treasonous - would not be accepted. Surveillance, interception of communications - in all forms, ‘profiling’ - particularly of foreign and ‘Muslims’ - even those who are in fact Australian, are the tools to establish ‘loyalty’. The Attorney-General has listed 19 groups as ‘terrorist organisations’. As Hassan noted: “In the current case of WikiLeaks, a number of U.S. Congressmen and journalists have called for the prosecution of Julian Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act for breaching U.S. security. This is not something out of the blue, but has been used in the past to prosecute American citizens. It is reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s prosecution of people - labelled ‘traitors’ - who criticised the Nazi Party or made jokes about the Führer.” Is that the behaviour of a Great-And-Powerful-Friend ? The Australian Government said not a word. According to civil rights groups and privacy advocates, the growing ‘culture of surveillance’ poses great threat to civil liberties and personal freedom. The aim is to have total control of society by whatever means, and to force people to submit to draconian laws. Furthermore, the obsession with ‘national security’ is also a corporate business which benefits the manufacturers of surveillance cameras, scanners, et cetera, and their lobbyists. ‘National security’ is simply a pretext for no personal security. 8 Most Australians would regard themselves as tolerant; they would also claim to be eclectic, if they knew what it means. That would sit well with people who see themselves as both secular and living in a ‘Christian country’. This leads, among the general indifference, to the assertion of certain ‘values’ which are shared by government and prevailing religious organisations in order to manipulate public opinion. If a prime minister declares her/himself atheist, the government is likely to meet strong disapproval at an election. The result is loss of votes, and seats in Parliament. That connection is not subject to proof, but there are indicia: Queensland at the 2010 federal election. Therein is the rub. 22 Tolerance is often mistaken for indifference to what ‘the other’ thinks, feels, says - so long as that happen quietly, privately, and in the general expectation of social irrelevance. From this point of view, it is difficult to sustain that Australia is fascist. Fascism was born from anarchoid groups, runaway maximalist socialists, adventurers and broadly speaking people who were opposed to religion - meaning by that the Catholic Church. Soon, however, Fascism found support in the large landowners and latifundists, in the captains of industry, the banksters, and in part of the city bourgeoisie. In a short time it transmuted into a ‘respectable’ party which became conscious of the values of property, order and the sanctifying support of the Catholic Church. Within three years most fascists had turned monarchist, and their economic views had shifted towards Corporativism. Much of that, and large concessions allowing interference by the Catholic Church into the affairs of the Italian State, setting up civic discriminations amongst Italians, as well as large payments of money and assumption of financial obligations to the Church, led to the Concordat of 1929. The Duce of Fascism and the Pope of Rome recognised each other’s authoritarian regime. No such formality has ever been sought in Australia, not even by the Anglicans and the other Protestants who, together, are a majority. Many things are assumed in Australia: after all the head of state is a Battenberg of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha lineage and recently camouflaged as a Windsor, Anglican by definition; Christian denominational schools are financially rewarded on the irrational ‘justification’ that they relieve a burden which otherwise would fall on the States - which have responsibility for ‘education’ - and that subtle piece of blackmail works persuasively to the point that Australians prefer to send their children to denominational, better still, non-government schools. Many ‘aspirational’ families scrap money together to send their children to these schools so that they may make friends with ‘nice people’, who might be useful to them in later life. Many such schools give no better an education than could be had elsewhere, but they do much to accentuate class division - in a so-called ‘classless’ society - and to produce snobs: some of them go around with ‘boaters’, an English headgear popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and in fancy uniforms. Catholic schools have always taken ‘religious education’ - and there is an oxymoron ! - seriously. Protestant ones often try to emulate, but in practice their boys and girls learn to set more store by ‘good form’ and ‘right thinking’ than by the values of what is assumed to be a 23 ‘Christian country’. Most parents are happy enough in the knowledge that progress in all fields did not involve any falling away from what they regard as Australia’s ‘natural pre- eminence’ in tennis, swimming and other sports. The ‘new’ and ‘newest’ Australians have added to that soccer - and the consumption of good food, which has mostly replaced the time-honoured steak-and-eggs. For a long time pupils were taught to look to Britain as their true homeland; now they confusedly look - when they so do - at the home of the ‘free market’, wherever that may be. Of course, it is estimated that the cost of such discrimination is well worthy, in that private schools are seen as ‘one slice above the rest’, and secretly regarded by every ‘aspirational’ parent as a step for ‘better connections’ in the future of a child. Society responds to these expectations - literally from the cradle to the grave. The States renounce to the vaunted secularism, allow religious indoctrination in their schools, later in civic organisations and finally in the Armed Forces. The clergy, overwhelmingly Christian, enter into the life of the pupils distorting their education with notions of gods and creation. About a third of State schools have a chaplain. 2,000 of them - 98 per cent Christian - are formally employed. A case against that prevarication was heard by the High Court of Australia on 10, 11 and 12 May 2011 and on 20 June 2012 the court has ruled that the national school chaplaincy programme is constitutionally invalid to the extent that it exceeds the Commonwealth’s funding powers. But Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has told reporters in Canberra that the government would continue funding the programme, despite the landmark ruling. In August 2010 the ‘Labor’ Government announced that an additional AU$ 222 million would extend the ‘chaplaincy’ scheme until December 2014, and fund chaplains for 1,000 more schools. There was more money in the 2011 and 2012 budgets. As for equality, there are uniforms. “They are a good thing” Prime Minister Gillard said during a press conference in July 2010. And she went on: “I believe having a school uniform gives people a sense of self, a sense of discipline, a sense of how to present yourself to the world. I also think it undercuts some of those unhealthy things that can happen at schools when there’s a competition for the latest, most fashionable items.” 24 Official religion accompanies an Australian from the cradle, through the scholastic system, into the Armed Forces and by social convention into the professions, and down to the return of the body of a soldier from the war front. The coffin invariably carries a symbol of religion, which is assumed was in the wish of the soldier and whether s/he in fact liked it or not. Political representatives set aside their profession of faith, attend ceremonies, display a visage of circumstantial solemnity, and whether believers, atheist, agnostic or indifferent reaffirm their gratitude for the Church’s support. The symbiosis guarantees power to the parties against the people. The majority of the people do not know, have no time for distinctions, and/or are not interested in establishing the real cost of such alliance between Church and State. 9 Collusion between business and government is as old as Australia. In 1789, one year after the establishment of the penal colony, a regiment was formed in England and called the New South Wales Corps. The remote destination and the function of policing convicts attracted part-time officers, troops of ill repute and adventurers. The regiment began to arrive in 1790 and completed the military rule of the place. The distribution of ‘other people’s’ land began amongst officers of the Corps. Produce was sold to the government store. There being no local currency, rum was substituted as the medium of trade. The officers in charge arranged the first monopoly and earned for the Corps the moniker ‘The Rum Corps’. The related social consequences continued until the arrival of Governor Macquarie. It was under his regime that the first hospital was erected by a public- private partnership which was funded on the rum trade monopoly. That trade began to decline twenty years later. Corruption in public life continued. The ‘free-market’ illusion arrived almost two hundred years later, while governments remained actively ‘pro-business’. An aspiring politician would court suicide by declaring that s/he favours regulation of business in the interest of the community. That would quickly be branded as ‘socialism’. On 25 the contrary a clear statement of being ‘pro-business’ could increase the chance of success. Business operators would appreciate that, though they often appear to be torn between a desire to be left alone - and thus avoid any oversight - and the expectation that, as ‘producers’, they should receive special favours. These come in all shapes, as even recent events concerned with the euphemistically-called Global Financial Crisis demonstrated: subsidised loans - which often benefit small business, direct subsidies for all kinds of corporate exercises, resource privileges, monopolies when necessary, ad hoc legislation and trade protection, and when all other things fail: bailouts - especially for banks, insurance corporations, and car manufactures. While there may be an appearance of division between two sides of Parliament under the Westminster System, that ‘system’ should realistically be regarded as a bird trying to fly with two right wings. In Australia they are called the Labor Party and the Coalition - made up of the so-called urban ‘Liberals’ and the Agrarian Socialists. Early in the life of the recently longest period of Labor-in-office, it had become a truism to observe that the Haw/Keating Government of 1983-96 was managing the country in the interests of big business far more effectively - to those business, of course - than those who trumpeted the importance of private enterprise had ever been able to do. It is those interests which make and break governments, while setting the tone for a corrupt society. Three recent examples will be briefly referred to. In October 1984, not quite two years after the election of the federal Labor Party government headed by Bob Hawke and the Western Australian state Labor government headed by Brian Burke, the two leaders hosted a lunch for a newly formed fundraiser. Both being essentially from Western Australia, they called the new organisation the John Curtin Foundation, in memory of a third, and this an honest politician from The West and second world war prime minister. The effort was aimed at replenishing Labor’s election war-chests. Operating through the Western Australia Development Corporation, the founders gathered around themselves some of the wealthiest and most ‘daring’ business operators - many of them already covered with international reputation: Alan Bond, for instance. They 26 represented all fields of activity, from building to high industry to banking to pastoral to horseracing. Four years later a Royal Commission was appointed “to inquire into and report” whether there had been “corruption, illegal conduct, improper conduct, or bribery” on the part of any person or corporation in the “affairs, investment decisions and business dealings of the Government of Western Australia or its agencies.” At the cost of AU$ 30 million, and in a huge seven part Report, the Commission found conduct and practices on the part of certain persons involved in government in the period 1983 to 1989 “such as to place our government system at risk.” ... “Some ministers [had] elevated personal or party advantage over their constitutional obligation to act in the public interest.” ... “Personal associations and the manner in which electoral contributions were obtained could only create the public perception that favour could be bought, that favour would be done. We have observed that the size of the donations was quite extraordinary. In his approaches the premier was direct to the point at times of being forceful. He nominated the amounts he expected. They were far in excess of amounts previously donated in campaign fund-raising in this state.” Several of the protagonists, eventually, ended up in gaol - including former Premier Burke, although not on grounds directly related to WA Inc. In 1983 the recently elected Prime Minister Bob Hawke had flown across the continent to Perth on time to congratulate the winners of the America’s Cup at daybreak. It had been arranged with ‘other people’s money’ by Alan Bond, who had been inflated by the media almost to folk hero status for it. In 1987, as Russel Ward put it, Bond’s name was “emblazoned on a huge ovoid captive balloon floating in the polluted air above some Australian cities. Five years later he was made bankrupt and began serving a two-and-a-half- year gaol sentence for fraud.” Another example of collusion relates to the Australian Wheat Board. Incorporated in the late 1930s, ‘to regulate the wheat market’ - in truth to establish a government-monopoly on the sale of wheat through a ‘single desk’, it was intended to remedy the excesses of the Great Depression. In July 1999 it was restructured into a private company. 27 In 2004, after the invasion of Iraq, evidence was circulated that during the conflict the A.W.B. had continued to supply wheat for oil and obtained favour against other competitors with the Saddam Hussein regime by paying large sums of money as ‘transport fee’ - about AU$ 300 million - to a transport company in Jordan, that money being covertly transferred to the personal control of Saddam Hussein. In simple words, it was a bribe in violation of the agreements of the Oil-for-Food programme established fourteen years earlier and ending the year before. The kickbacks also breached the O.E.C.D. Anti-Bribery Convention. The United Nations investigated the matter. A U.N. 2005 Report confirmed that “little doubt remains that AWB made large numbers of payments to Alia [the fake transport company], and these payments in turn were channelled to the Iraqi regime.” In response to the U.N. Report, the Australian Government appointed a Royal Commission. The Commission concluded that from mid-1999 A.W.B. had knowingly entered into an arrangement which involved paying kickbacks to the Iraqi Government, in order to retain its business. It cleared Government bureaucrats and ministers from wrongdoing, and recommended criminal prosecutions be begun against former A.W.B. executives. It came to that conclusion after have having heard the Minister for Trade, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister, all at the time from the ‘conservative’ side of politics, whose departments had issue the necessary paper work. Mountains of cables and papers were produced. During his first term of office Prime Minister Howard had deliberately ‘enfeebled’ the so- called ‘doctrine of ministerial responsibility’, which is supposed to be central to the Westminster type of responsible government. The new ‘doctrine’ was tortuously expressed as follows: "Where [the ministers] neither knew, nor should have known about matters of departmental administration which come under scrutiny it is not unreasonable to expect that the secretary or some other senior officer will take the responsibility." At different times, from many sources, there had been warning of the kickbacks. Application of the Howard’s ‘doctrine of ministerial responsibility’ led to the conclusion that the ministers should be held responsible only if they actually believed the substance of the warnings, should reasonably have believed the substance of the warnings, or should 28 reasonably have investigated the warnings, which in turn would have led to them discovering the veracity of the warnings. The Labor strategy began in a whirlwind of hyperbole which talked of corruption and government impropriety, and led the media to focus on the existence or otherwise of a ‘smoking gun’, unwittingly making anything less to seem acceptable. Labor Opposition was unable to meet the required standards of proof, and everybody got away scot free. No one from A.W.B. went to gaol. No minister resigned over the scandal. There is a third example of the failure of ‘parliamentary democracy’ in the Australian system. In June 2010 Prime Minister Rudd, who had been commissioned on 3 December 2007, was ousted, through a series of backroom manoeuvres by a cabal of apparatchiks and trade union functionaries of his own party, the Labor Party. Discontent had been brooding within and outside the government for some time, at least from the beginning of 2009. During that year the government had faced the so-called Global Financial Crisis by providing a stimulus to the economy at the tune of AU$ 42 billion. The government would since take credit for ‘saving’ the country from the crisis. In reality if there was a saviour for Australia it was China, which continued to buy - certainly not the United States, where the fraudsters had caused the crisis. Incidentally, in four years since the G.F.C., which - it is guesstimated - might have cost the world US$ 40 trillion, no Wall Street executives have been gaoled. Essentially, in Australia, too, the government had acted to support the financial and corporate élite. Not all government initiatives connected with the stimulus had been a success. A proposed Emission Trading Scheme had been moribund since December 2009, but had collapsed after the failure of the U.N. Climate Change Conference at Copenhagen and the collapse of the agreement on the E.T.S. with the Opposition due to the replacement of the leader Malcolm Turnbull by a more aggressive Tony Abbott after a harsh campaign led by the Murdoch press. There were also other causes for the decline in popularity of the Rudd/Gillard Government. By mid-April 2010 the government had decided to shelve the E.T.S. in order to remove provisions for compensation of major corporations from the budget and so assist in returning it to surplus faster than previously planned. Similar considerations suggested the introduction 29 of a Resource Super Profit Tax on the mines “which are owned by all Australians” - the government emphasised, as part of a Future Tax System review. Announced ‘without consultation’ as the miners claimed so unjustly, and with the support of the trade unions, the proposal soon became the target of a ferocious media propaganda by the miners - mainly the three gigantic corporations: BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata. BHP Billiton is a global mining and oil and gas company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and with a major management office in London, United Kingdom. It is the world’s largest mining company measured by revenues and, as of February 2011, the world’s third-largest company measured by market capitalisation. Rio Tinto plc is a transnational corporation registered in London and there with subterranean connection with, and benefits to, The Firm with headquarters at Buckingham Palace. Xstrata is a global diversified mining group based in Zug, Switzerland. To these transnational corporations Australia is but another quarry. The three behemoths were determined to show the government ‘who really owns’ the mines - and much else in Australia. For the purpose, the Minerals Council of Australia announced that it was amassing an AU$ 100 million war-chest to defeat the proposed tax and began an aggressive media propaganda. All told ‘the miners’ spent AU$ 22.100,000 million + AU$ 1.9 million to the ‘Coalition’, according to figures released by the Australian Electoral Commission. The government attempted to react and planned to spend a lot of money in the process. By this time even some Labor members of Caucus were publicly questioning the Prime Minister’s wisdom. In that they were aided by the powerful media - particularly the Murdoch’s outlets. By early June 2010 opinion polls began to turn out unfavourable to the government. At this point a Right-wing clique of Labor bureaucrats pressed the Deputy Prime Minister - once a ‘campus radical’, to challenge the leadership. At first she appeared reluctant, but on the evening of 23 June she was ‘persuaded’ of her mission and indispensability, met Prime Minister Rudd, failed to persuade him that the government ‘had lost its way’, and then ‘made herself available’. On 24 June a tamed Caucus, fearful of losing office, concocted a unanimity and elected Ms. Gillard uncontested. Transnational capital had won. What followed was a progressive retreat by the Australian Government, continuously under pressure from the press, ‘public opinion’, and above all the relentless pursuit of mining foreign as well as domestic interests. 30 The Resource Super Profit Tax was turned into a Mineral Resource Rent Tax, the details of which were left to a committee under a former BHP Billiton chairman. Big business returned to what it does best: making money, with the connivance of the government if possible. The Murdoch press ‘glamourised’ the new Prime Minister as the first woman in that post. The electorate went back to concluding that ‘politicians are all crooks’ and - in the process - to the customary indifference to its own very interest. Towards the end of 2010 WikiLeaks cables confirmed that the removal of Prime Minister Rudd had been orchestrated by formerly ‘faceless number men’ who have been secretly informing officials at the United States Embassy in Canberra. Australia’s foreign policy under the Gillard ‘Labor’ Government is not at risk of departing from the unquestionably subservient neo-colonial stance it had held for so long under the Howard ‘Liberal’ Government. Australia’s vassalage state has been confirmed in a March 2011 address to the American Congress by the present Prime Minister. It was a sycophantic performance. It was repeated in November 2011 in Canberra for President Obama’s visit. This is the almost- natural way of ‘downstairs’ people. As Susan George of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam observed, “The ruling élite have chosen to serve the narrowest possible private minority interests of transnational financial and industrial corporations.” The merger of corporate and government powers in Australia, very much like in America, is no different from the Italian fascist experience. 10 During most of the twentieth century unions were the dominant force of Australian industrial life. For most of that time they were the point of convergence of many employees. Between 1914 and 1990 at least two in five workers were members of a union. At its first meeting on 1 August 1890 the Council of the Australian Labor Federation had written the first plank in its parliamentary platform as “Universal white adult suffrage for all parliamentary and local elections”; and in 1905 the federal parliamentary platform proclaimed the following: “ Objective – (1) The cultivation of an Australian sentiment based upon the maintenance of racial purity, and the development in Australia of an enlightened 31 and self-reliant community. (2) The securing of the full results of their industry to all producers by the collective ownership of monopolies and the extension of the industrial economic functions of the State and Municipality.” There would be some membership fluctuations, with more members in the 1920s, after the second world war and during the Whitlam years, and there had been considerable contractions during the Great Depression and in the 1960s. At the middle of last century 50 per cent of the workers were unionised; today the figure hovers around 20 per cent. Casual employment, the arrival of the computer, and the opening of jobs to more women have brought about de-unionisation. Strikes have now become extremely rare. For a long time since its formation, the Labour Movement has, very much like the Labor Party, stressed the importance of some basic values: Australian nationalism, ‘racial purity’, and practical reformist measures, rather than any kind of general, doctrinaire socialist programme for rearranging society. In preserving ‘law and order’, at first the colonial governments and after federation the state governments collaborated with employers’ organisations, while the press, almost unanimously, denounced those of the employees. News of the French Revolution arrived in the colony with the Second Fleet in 1790. Most colonies during the 1890s set up some kind of early corporative, legal machinery for compulsorily arbitrating disputes between employers and employees. Labor’s view was by no means solidly enthusiastic; its more realistic view of the state’s role in strike struggles was, rather, that state arbitration might prove another employers’ device for coercing the wage earners. When union numbers increased during the 1970s, Australians became more likely to tell the pollsters - more often than not under the control of corporatist media - that unions had “too much power.” The evidence was never requested. But there was another, and more insidious reason for the fall of unionism: the ‘Accord’ which was the product of the corporative effort of the Haw/Keating Government. Unions declined then, or - rather - they lost their real raison d’être in an enfeebling innovation of capital- labour collaboration: the Third Way. The ‘Accord’ and rapidly moving international 32 conditions brought about four consequences: changes to laws governing unions, greater market competition, structural change and, as a result, structural inequality. It was no longer possible to feel a sense of real solidarity and equality over such uniting common clichés as ‘equality, solidarity and mateship’. They had come from some mythical presentation by William Guthrie Spence that “Unionism came to the Australian bushman as a religion. ... It had in it the feeling of mateship which he understood already, and which always characterised the action of one ‘white man’ to another. Unionism extended the idea, as a man’s character was gauged by whether he stood true to union rules or ‘scabbed’ it on his fellows. ... The lowest form of reproach is to call a man a ‘scab’.” Long before the end of the twentieth century, solidarity had all gone, with Hawke against the air pilots to favour his ‘mate’ ‘Sir’ Peter Abeles in 1989, and Howard organising the ‘scabs’ against the maritime workers to favour his ‘mate’ Corrigan in 1998. Of the three characterising myths only the last remained: the right to call everybody by her/his first name. That the salary of the boss was a huge multiplier of the meagre salary of the employee - when s/he was engaged in work - still did not matter. What mattered was such pervasive uncouthness. By this time television had arrived, and very successfully, to expand the myth, dispense vulgarity, and console that “We are all in it, together.”, in the general dumbing-down of what really matters in life. Before the turn to this century, employers had arranged what could have become the final stroke against unions: the election of the Howard Government. It is not a popular view, but there was something to make Howard ‘one of us’, rather ‘one like us’. He is ordinary, modestly educated, with little ambition to refine the condition of life, a sense of self- satisfaction, uninterested in improving one’s intellectual baggage, self-deprecating, a ‘nationalist’, constitutionally a racist, a monarchist, and profoundly a Philistine. Howard long period in government had a firm programme on a limited number of points: maintain the ‘alliance’ with the Great-And-Powerful-Friend, defend the national borders - that is keep attempting refugees out, protect the ‘producers’, and subjugate the workers. He was particularly vicious when it came to the most resistant of unions. 33 Against the building workers he erected the Australian Building and Construction Commission - A.B.C.C., an anti-union tribunal which has for nine consecutive years embarrassed Australia by earning the condemnation of the International Labour Organization. The U.N. I.L.O.’s Committee of Experts, an eminent body of labour law jurists, noted - this year for the eighth time - that: “the manner in which the ABCC carries out its activities seems to have led to the exclusion of workers in the building and construction industry from the protection that the labour inspection system ought to secure for these workers under the applicable laws, ... the Committee urges the Government to ensure that the priorities of the ABCC (or the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate) are effectively reoriented.” Some unions have bitterly criticised the attitude of the Rudd/Gillard, and then of the Gillard Government. One of them, in particular, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, has made its view known in fourteen broad, well reasoned and argued, propositions which bear upon the performance of the Rudd/Gillard Government 2007‐10 and Labor’s performance in the 2010 general election. Prime Minister Gillard comes from the Socialist Forum and the ‘Left’ of the Labor Party; yet her election was managed by a group of Right-wing operators, many of them very close to reactionary forces. In modern times, distinctions between Right and Left have no longer any meaning. ‘Right’ used to mean - broadly speaking - supporting capitalism and opposing any move to socialism. That much is still true, but ‘Left’ used to mean the opposite, i.e. overcoming capitalism and moving towards socialism. That has not been true of the ‘Left’ of the Labor Party for quite some time. In addition, Ms. Gillard demonstrated in her role as Workplace Relations Minister that she can put aside her ‘Left’ credentials and push the ‘neo-liberal’ agenda with the best of them. Before the 2007 election she was clear about keeping a ‘tough cop on the beat’ of the building and construction industry. She was also intransigent in dealing with public school teachers in their campaign against the publication of the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy, NAPLAN - testing results in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy - on the My School website, the league tables which followed and the overall privatising agenda of the government. 34 Part of the Gillard Government’s agenda is increasingly to inflict the burden of the financial crisis onto the backs of working people: this in large part will be used to deliver the government’s stated objective of a budget surplus in 2013. This will also mean a growing offensive against workers and their unions. Most of the anti-union provisions established under the Howard Government’s WorkChoices have been retained under the renamed Fair Work Australia. The purpose-built anti-union A.B.C.C. is still in place. The widening of its powers to include the policing of unions in industries other than construction, and the beefing up of existing anti-union laws, are options on the government’s table. Only the Australian Workers’ Union, the Right-wing manipulators of which delivered Gillard her position, will be excluded from this offensive. 11 As Bernard Smith, well known academic and art critic, wrote just after the second world war, “support of rich industrialists, post-war chaos, world depression, rising resentment and radicalism, capitalist crisis were present in Australia as in other countries [after the first world war]. They provided the social basis for an indigenous fascist development in Australia. But, in addition to these local factors, there were overseas influences - the writings of Nietzsche, Spengler and others - who gave a measure of theoretical credence, and the sanction of ‘authorities’ to the local developments, particularly in the realm of art comment. It will be possible to deal only with these attributes of pre-fascist mentality that are in some way connected with art comment and criticism. What are these attributes? ... Some of those which are relevant to our purpose here include: the doctrine of racial supremacy, the belief in society as an organism, a hatred of democracy, the fascist praise of rural life, the identification of modern art with Bolshevism and Jewish exploitation. Have these attributes revealed themselves in the ‘culture climate’ of Australia?” And he went on: “Nationalism in its heightened forms is usually identified with the dominant ‘race’ of the nation. In this way, nationalism tends to transform itself into racism. We may note symptoms of this transposition in the phrase of [art critic] J. S. MacDonald: ‘the racial expression of others will not be ours’, the supremacy of ‘British-blooded stock’, and similar 35 statements. The same writer gives evidence of his belief in the possible development of an Australian racial élite when, in dealing with the art of Arthur Streeton, he writes: ‘If we so choose, we can yet be the elect of the world, the last of the pastoralists, the thoroughbred Aryans in all their nobility’. Such a statement combines the fascist love of rural life, emphasizes the Aryan myth of racial supremacy, and champions racial purity.” One of the minor attributes of fascist thought is the idealisation of rural life as compared with the life of the city. Such view was fundamental to the philosophy of B. A. Santamaria, an Australian political activist and journalist, and one of the most influential political figures in twentieth century Australian history. He was a highly divisive figure with strongly held anti- Communist views and medieval Franco-like Catholicism. His corrosive influence lasted much longer than that of figures such as artist Norman Lindsay, who had occasion to lament that “the lower orders have taken to practicing art themselves” and to belittle ‘The Wharf Lumper in Art’.” Wharf labourers have been blamed for many things, but only Lindsay would blame them for the art form of, for example, Salvador Dalí. Hitler, of course, felt very much as did Lindsay in the matter of modern art. He passed laws against it, called it Jewish, international, foreign, degenerate. He forced modern artists such as Beckmann, Kandinsky, Klee out of their art schools, and drove them from the country. Their works were removed from museum walls and hidden or sold abroad. The private view of certain ‘races’ in the Australia of the 1930s was very much close to that of the Fascist and Nazi regimes. Coincidentally, the holders of such views shared the same hatred for democracy as displayed by Arthur de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Many of these ‘urbane’ racists had quite a lot in common: hatred for Communism, for Bolshevism, and a ‘discreet’ dislike of the Jews - and all of such social evils as purveyors of ‘Modernism’. ‘Urbane’ racists regard the Enlightenment, Payne’s Age of reason, as the beginning of modern depravity. Fascism brought with itself two elements: irrationalism, which depends on the cult of action for action’s sake, and decisionism, which could be regarded as the theoretical justification for that action’s cult. In fact, Fascism has an irrational element which rejects modern thought 36 because it conflicts with traditional beliefs of the Christian religion. Evolution is seen as modernist and is rejected in favour of Christian creationism. This debate re-emerges in present-day Australia’s equivocal attitude to the attempt to give equal value in education to evolution and creationism. The federal government is not concerned about it: education is a state matter. Nevertheless, it assists both state and private schools - and these in larger measure - just as in a ‘both-way bet’. It goes with the possible ‘privatisation’ of everything. It also responds to the figure of the ‘action man’ as a doer and not a thinker - the contrary being the prerogative of females. All this makes for a populist view of reading and studying as antithetical to sport and athleticism. And that view of life, inevitably, flows into a stolid and determined anti- intellectualism. Anti-intellectualism in Australian is one of the few activities to which the populace is seriously committed. It manifests with a scorning hostility towards and mistrust of intellectuals, and intellectual pursuits, usually expressed as the derision of education, philosophy, literature, art, and science as impractical and contemptible. ‘Intellectual’, ‘impractical’, ‘academic’, and similar words are terms of abuse in Australia. In public discourse, anti-intellectuals usually perceive and publicly present themselves as champions of the common folk - populists against political elitism and academic elitism - proposing that the educated are a social class detached from the everyday concerns of the majority. As a political adjective, 'anti-intellectual' variously describes an education system emphasising minimal academic accomplishment, and a government which formulates public policy without the advice of academics and their scholarship. Because ‘anti-intellectual’ can be a pejorative, defining specific cases of anti-intellectualism can be troublesome; one can object to specific facets of intellectualism or the application thereof without being dismissive of intellectual pursuits in general. Moreover, allegations of ‘anti-intellectualism’ can constitute an appeal to authority or an appeal to ridicule which attempts to discredit an opponent rather than specifically addressing her/his arguments. Anti-intellectualism carries a feeling of ressentissement of, combined with a secret envy for, persons who have obtained a certain degree of formal education and do not relinquish the 37 pleasure of continuing it. It goes with the feeling that the ‘intellectual’ is not ‘one of us’, may be dangerous, and is suspect with having no feeling for the ordinary person. Therefore, an intellectual is by definition arrogant, detached from the common person - not a ‘mate’. Many intellectuals in Australia have foreign background, or education - or both. Often they belong to groups who ‘think otherwise’, are often non-conformist and, therefore, suspected with being atheist, of lose mores, of disapproved sexual behaviour, in the Australian jargon: poofters - who more often than not are Jews. For that ‘reason’ alone, but also because intellectuals encourage discussion, specialise in ‘verbal virtuosity’ rather than leading to tangible, measurable products and services, are ‘secularist’, care about ‘the humanities’, and if given carte blanche would ‘prepare students for life’ but instil in their pupils thoughts and views which are not conducive to ‘making a living’, intellectuals are a ‘race’ apart. Dictatorial, authoritarian, self-absorbing governments find it convenient to accuse intellectuals of being socially uninvolved - that is of rejecting the one-single-thought view of life, politically-dangerous, unsatisfied with the status quo and received beliefs, hence by definition ‘subversives’. Some examples will suffice. It was John Thomas Lang - admittedly a Labor ‘apostate’ - who was once heard to admonish a keen young Labor member discovered reading in the Parliamentary Library with the words:”Reading eh ? You’ll soon get over that nonsense, son. No time for it, here.” Ignorance of economic theory in no way distinguished him from many, most other political leaders of the day, state and federal. Time ? 1930s. Lang would not be alone. In March 1970, in Melbourne - which likes to put itself about as ‘The Athens of the South’ - Sir Henry Bolte, the ‘Liberal’ longest-serving Premier of Victoria, speaking at a Victorian Parliamentary House dinner, prided himself as follows: “The only place I’ve never been in here is the library, not in twenty-odd years.” He had already said of striking teachers seeking to meet him: “I don’t have a doorstep low enough for them to sit on.” In 1987 Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, the Country Party (Agrarian Socialists) longest-serving Premier of Queensland, delivered himself as follows: “The greatest thing that could happen to the state and the nation is when we can get rid of all the media. Then we could live in peace and tranquillity, and no one would know anything.” 38 It would be a very short answer to the question: when did Bob Hawke, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, and so far Julia Gillard, ever cross the threshold of a theatre, a concert hall, or the sublime Sydney Opera House, for cultural purpose; when was any of them ever noted for attending a lecture, or a book launch which was not strictly to the advancement of their political career ? Has any of them ever read a work of fiction, seen a play, or a subtitled film, or sung in a choir, or debated moral questions since high school ? In May 2011 Opera Australia staged a performance of Puccini’s La bohème, one of the most romantic, one of the most frequently performed operas internationally. From the publicity one could have thought that Mimì had just left some night-club where modern youth go to jump- up-and-down, and binge away their life - scantily dressed, half dishevelled, ready for anything on the backseat of a car, or wherever the occasion demands. Rodolfo looked no better: some kind of labourer going to the locker-room for a well-deserved shower. Topless prostitutes figured in a promotional image and were introduced in the ‘modernisation’, presumably to portray the atmosphere of the Quartier Latin and of the Café Momus, to give a palpable sense of looseness (we are in Paris, after all !). If this was done to ‘up-date’ the ‘scenario’ so that young people could be attracted, it was a waste of time and money. It completely amounted to traducing Puccini, and Illica, and Giacosa, and the original Murger. Most ‘old Italians’ may not have understood the original words anyway, and may have had a problem with the subtitles. Both groups could hardly have afforded the extortionate prices. Such is, however, the ‘production’ of ‘culture’ in ‘multicultural Australia’. At mid-2010 Bob Ellis, a well-known social commentator, one who has a life-long association with the Labor Party, published a book, a sort of election diary. In it, and at several points, he wrote about Prime Minister Gillard that she is “not well informed”, while Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition, has “good manners”, is “formidable” and possessed of a “first-class mind.” There is no love lost between Ellis and Abbott. But it is for Gillard, who is “sudden, firm and wrong” in everything she does, that Ellis reserves some of his most acidic barbs. He opens with some rhetorical questions, “Is Julia Gillard a brilliant parliamentary performer ...? Or is she a political drongo [in Australia: a slow-witted or stupid person] who should be sacked from the Ministry and deselected ?” He answers his own questions in favour of the ‘political drongo’ option, and then launches into an entertaining, but devastating, resumé of Gillard’s 39 actions throughout her time in parliament. Three pages are devoted to such examination, and they carry the voice of truth. Then came a veritable broadside: “She’s not well-informed.” he writes. “She hasn’t, I think, read a novel or seen a film with subtitles and I doubt if she has read Encounter or the New Statesman or Vanity Fair or Harper’s or the London Review of Books or The New York Review of Books and therefore she doesn’t have hinterland. She has not much except a kindergarten sandpit response to things: ‘Nyah, nyah you’re just jealous because I’m prime minister and you’re not.’ ... It’s perfectly all right for some reason if you are deputy prime minister to do that but when you are prime minister, you have to speak for the nation and I don’t think she has discovered what that is. ... One thing is sure - there will be no Gillard era. This is not a 20-year stretch. Civilised people’s hands are already over their faces every time she speaks. That cannot last. She has no power, no influence, no friends, no learning. There’s not much there.” So is there no way back for her ? Ellis pauses for a while and then pronounces: “She needs a Falklands war. She modelled herself a great deal on Thatcher but lacking, alas, the husband or twin children that would have made that kind of act respectable.” Gillard is part of a Melbourne-based gang Ellis dubs the “Mouse Pack”, which includes [two other ministers]. “They twitch their whiskers and come out in favour of the Afghan war without studying the problem or noting that an army intelligence officer [Independent MP Andrew Wilkie] holds the balance of power.” Ellis says. “This is not so much dumb stuff as stuff that comes from people who have been in the same small room for too long, stroking each other’s fur.” And then there is the ‘can-do’ mentality. In August 2010, visiting her old school in Adelaide Ms. Guillard said that she would ‘fast track’ new teachers. Accountants, engineers, lab- technicians, journalists would do an eight-week course, then learn on the job in classrooms to be full-fledged qualified teachers in two years. As Bjelke-Petersen of Queensland memory used to say: “You do not learn experience from a book.” “What grieves me most - writes Ellis in a by no means final tirade - is Gillard’s utter lack of any apparent moral continuity. Smashed marriages, betrayed leaders, ungratefully 40 punished unionists, shamed and amazed schoolteachers and billions wasted on architectural white elephants trail in her wake and she sees no wrong in this record of wilful, senseless vandalism. She thinks it is a good idea to bust things up and requests our congratulations for her serial spontaneous atrocities, laughing at them off merrily as she would spill popcorn.” Whitlam, a profoundly erudite person and patron of all arts, was universally condemned by the Australian corporate media and the populace-at-large for being caught ‘viewing ruins’ in Athens in December 1974 at the time a cyclone inflicted huge damage on Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. Keating, a self-taught person, was derided for having ‘academic’ ambitions in cultivating Mahler and a passion for old clocks. Australians have a word for this kind of ‘passive or emasculated’ (males only, please !) highly cultivated person, who is by definition not ‘virile’ as the Fascists wanted to be portrayed. The word is poofter and it goes well beyond a reference to one’s sexual proclivity. 12 The State lives on fear. Today, it is the fear of ‘terrorists,’ which is a manufactured threat, meant to scare people into handing over their rights and dignity to the tricksters in power. “Our twentieth century is the century of fear,” wrote Camus in his article ‘The century of fear’ for Combat, the newspaper which had supported the French Resistance to Nazi occupation during the second world war. Camus said that fear could be regarded as a developed science, and that “its perfected technology threatens the entire world with destruction.” The time ? November 1946. The truth of that statement came to fruition in the last century, but it has taken on new meaning since the 11 September 2001 attacks, especially when one considers the mindless reaction which was engineered and orchestrated by individuals at the highest levels of the United States Government who are interested in making the 21st century just as fearful and war-like as the last. 9/11 was obviously no ordinary event. It created a state of suggestibility in the American people, which is one of the means of indoctrinating ordinary people both religiously and politically. America was not always so ugly as today. 41 In his State of the Union address, on 6 January 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy: 1. Freedom of speech and expression, 2. Freedom of worship, 3. Freedom from want, and 4. Freedom from fear. Present day Australia has secured - more or less - the first three. As for the fourth, Alan Renouf, one of Australia’s most experienced diplomats, felt bound to give the title The frightened country to his memoirs of Australian foreign policy. He published the work in 1979 upon his return from Washington where he had been a well respected ambassador. His thesis was that an “unreasoning fearfulness” sits at the heart of Australia’s relations with the world. The country lives in fear of its neighbourhood. That fear has several deep consequences for the way Australia conducts itself. The ‘White Australia’ policy, built on anger at the Chinese who had come to Australia during the gold rushes of the second half of the 19th century, came to a political head in 1888. Of the 40,721 Chinese who had come to Australia, accounting for a peak of just 3.3 per cent of the national population, 36,049 eventually left. This was Australia’s experience of the so-called Asian hordes. It was a defining moment for the country’s social and political evolution. The Chinese lingered in the collective national consciousness as the alien masses for which Australia has spent the rest of its history anxiously scanning the horizon. Upon federation Australia incorporated the same ‘values’ of racial superiority and exclusion. The ‘White Australia’ policy was one of the founding principles of the Commonwealth, encouraged by the newly formed Labor Party and expressed in legislation as the first act of the new Federal Parliament in 1901. In the previous century, after Tasmanian Aborigines started to resist the wholesale invasion of their fertile lands, the largely benign descriptions of ‘the natives’ gave way to derogatory descriptions which likened them to wild animals. Indigenous Australians were to continue to be treated as less than human, murdered, mistreated - and their children taken from the families. The ‘race’ was a ‘problem’ which required a ‘solution’. Does that sound familiar ? ‘Invasion anxiety’ has been one of the most powerful, subliminal forces in Australian life. It has always had racial overtones and is often expressed most forcefully by the same people - 42 and governments - who deny that Indigenous Australians are entitled to recognition as the original owners of this country and recompense for what has been taken from them. It has been revived recently when it has informed the imposition of a brutal detention regime on those people seeking asylum in Australia from the ravages that Australians have brought to their countries: Afghanistan and Iraq, in particular. Domestic peace was very early a victim of the ‘Queen’s peace’, which led, amongst other causes, to the enactment of harsh penalties for non-conformists and to the conviction of Henry Seekamp for seditious libel over the Eureka Rebellion in 1854; the conviction of 13 trade union leaders of the 1891 Australian shearers’ strike for sedition and conspiracy; and the action against radical Harry Holland, gaoled for two years in 1909 over his advocacy of violent revolution during the Broken Hill miners’ strike. During the first world war sedition laws were used against those who opposed conscription and war, in particular the Industrial Workers of the World - I.W.W. In 1916 members of the I.W.W. in Perth were charged with sedition including 83 year old Montague Miller, known as the grand old man of the labour movement. Miller was released after serving a few weeks of his sentence but was re-arrested in 1917 in Sydney at the age of 84 and sentenced to six months gaol with hard labour at Long Bay Gaol on the charge of belonging to an unlawful association. The ‘Sydney Twelve’ were all charged and convicted with various offences including sedition. On 10 December 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nowadays, December 10 is celebrated as International Human Rights Day - but the heart is not there. Australians, insular and educationally limited, see themselves as inhabiting ‘the best country in the world’ - why, the best in the synonymous ‘Southern hemisphere’. In theory, Australians are unequivocally opposed to human rights abuses. Those who know and care will condemn the governments of other countries where human rights abuses occur while simultaneously living indifferently with human rights abuses occurring in their own backyard. In fact many individuals would be incensed at the suggestion and reject the notion that human rights abuses are routinely occurring in Australia. 43 For Australians, the expression ‘human rights abuses’ conjures up a range of images including torture in Abu Ghraib, or at Guantánamo, or human trafficking in Asia, or honour killings in Muslim communities, and the detention of political prisoners living under repressive regimes. Australians associate abuses of human rights with corrupt governments, lawless lands and absolute poverty. The people they imagine as victims are rarely white: these people come from other lands, particularly African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. In March 1949 Lance Sharkey, then General-Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia, was charged that he had uttered the following seditious words: "If Soviet Forces in pursuit of aggressors entered Australia, Australian workers would welcome them. Australian workers would welcome Soviet Forces." Australians who could articulate some ‘key facts’ would say, not without some boasting, that in their country all people - Australians and non-Australians alike - are treated equally before the law; that the Australian legal system is based on the concept of the rule of law, and that in all cases defendants are considered to be innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Let it be said immediately: this is not so - and it hardly ever was so. There was always present an urge for “the comfortable to disavow the needy” - as Galbraith would put it - making it easier to imagine that defects of character or culture rather than economic history cause disadvantage. Now more than ever there is an implicit assumption that a person charged is inevitably guilty. Intellectually corrupt media fuel that prejudice. Due process, legal aid, ‘not guilty’ verdicts and sentences which take account of mitigating circumstances are seen as ‘mollycoddling’ the criminals. In other words, never mind the evidence, just focus on the possibility - the kleptocracy excluded, of course. The State police may not be much loved, but it is thought of as responsible for keeping peace - which is the Queen’s peace - in the community and bringing before the court people they believe have broken the law. There is also a national police force - the Australian Federal Police - which investigates offences against federal laws, including drug trafficking, illegal immigration, crimes against national security and crimes against the environment. 44 To foster understanding about, and protection of, human rights and to address human rights concerns, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission was established in 1986 as an independent statutory organisation reporting to the federal parliament through the Attorney-General. An Australian Crime Commission was established in January 2003 as an independent statutory body to work nationally with federal, state and territory agencies, principally to counter serious and organised crime. Combating transnational crime and terrorism is also a high priority for Australia, and extradition and mutual assistance are key tools in that fight. International cooperation ensures that criminals cannot evade justice simply by crossing borders. Australia has formal extradition arrangements with more than 120 countries. Such arrangements are part of an extensive range of treaties, which are the formal instruments of international law. All this conjures up the picture of a law abiding country. Not so. Increasingly, during the past thirty years at least, the U.N. Human Rights Committee has found on several occasions that Australia has breached the fundamental human rights of people living in Australia, and the Committee has heard some fifty complaints against Australia. In seventeen of those cases, the Committee found that Australia violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. While some Australians find it embarrassing or outrageous that a foreign tribunal can sit in judgment of Australia, Australia alone among the so called ‘western democracies’ does not have a Bill of Rights so courts cannot hear complaints about human rights violations. Some laws have been enacted to protect human rights and the rudimentary Constitution of Australia has been found by the High Court - quite laboriously - to contain certain implied rights. Australia has been criticised - quite bitterly, but in vain - for its past and present treatment of the Indigenous People. It is not a sufficient explanation that the majority of Australians enjoy some economic prosperity and they and the governments may be blind to the failure of the laws to protect human rights. Every day there are too many examples of people being denied their lawful human rights and, as a result, living disadvantaged lives in unnecessary hardship. 45 No government in Australia is exempt from the charge of exploiting the community’s fears about crime and almost all levels of government have attempted to exploit such fear of crime for political advantage. There is plenty of evidence that the large network of Australian civilian and military ‘intelligence’ and security agencies, both domestic and overseas, do not exist to safeguard ordinary people. Their function is to terrorise and intimidate the public, especially political opponents of the ruling establishment. From the gaoling of militants during the first world war to the Petrov affair of the early 1950s and the Hilton Hotel bombing in 1978, those agencies have a long history of dirty tricks and frame-ups directed against left-wing activists, trade unionists and people branded as ‘Marxists’. From time immemorial confessions have been extracted from prisoners under interrogation. The High Court felt compelled in two cases, Williams v. The Queen (1986) 160 CLR 171 and McKinney v. The Queen (1991) 171 CLR 468, to limit police questioning and require judges to warn juries of the dangers of convicting on the basis of a confession alone. State and federal laws were then passed specifically to authorise police interrogations, subject to video- taping. But studies have since shown that video-taping is no guarantee against the planting of evidence and concoction of false confessions. Through other means the Australian Federal Police and other federal agencies have been known to abuse human rights: phone-tapping, bugging, computer hacking, tracking and optical devices to monitor and gather information. In October 1997 the Melbourne Age newspaper revealed that the Victorian Police Special Branch of the Liberal Government of Jeff Kennett had illegally monitored and maintained files on political activists and organisations, and infiltrated political and community groups. The previous Cain Labor Government claimed to have disbanded the Special Branch in 1983, but simply replaced it with the Operation Intelligence Unit. Since renamed the Security Intelligence Group, it continued to carry out political surveillance, including of Islamic associations, radical parties, refugee action groups and animal liberation organisations. Over the past twenty years at least, a veritable fever of penal ‘reform’ gripped the State governments, usually in the heat of election ‘auctions’ designed to demonstrate that the purveyors of the policies were definitely not ‘soft’ on crime. ‘Labor’ governments were 46 particularly sensitive to being tagged with that label and moved dramatically away from more progressive policies which had previously characterised their approach to criminal justice. Under attack from the Opposition or radio shock-jocks, ministers may feel there is no option but ‘to talk tough’, reassuring themselves that unless they make compromises to ‘penal populism’, they will lose power and, with it, the chance to make beneficial changes to the system. The beginning of this era of ‘penal populism’ in Australia appears to have been the 1988 New South Wales election which was marked by a ‘bidding war’ on the introduction of tough new penalties. The result was the so-called ‘truth in sentencing’ legislation which dramatically inflated the prison population. From this point, and with the media pouring high octane fuel on politically malleable fears, a cycle of increasingly punitive policing and punishment took hold. By the 1990s, the promise of tougher sanctions to protect people from crime had become an obligatory element in every suite of policies presented to the voters at state elections. ‘Law-and-order’ has risen inexorably from being judged a relatively low-order problem to one of the top three or four needing political attention. In the lead up to the 1998 election, Prime Minister Howard raised the ‘law-and-order’ issue - which is usually the province of the states - calling for harsher punishments and even accusing judges of being ‘soft’ on crime. New South Wales’ then Premier Bob Carr adopted a punitive rhetoric previously associated with conservative figures, saying, amongst other things, that “hoodlum patrols would reclaim the streets for our citizens and make them safe again.” Drug traffickers, he later promised, would “die in gaol.” Western Australia was the first State to introduce a form of the now notorious mandatory sentencing initially popularised in the United States. And soon the others followed, in a mechanistic growing disdain for rehabilitation and intolerance. Sloganeering as a substitute for thought, and logic, and human solidarity, and ‘a programme’, became the norm. Entire classes of Australians were abused and humiliated - called “dole bludgers” - those forced to rely on unemployment compensation, “welfare cheaters”. The governments - all of them, including the present Gillard Government - seem intent on pushing a punitive agenda rather than one with the goal of providing improved opportunities 47 for those in receipt of financial assistance. The accent is on punishing rather than encouraging; frightening rather than encouraging. The slogan ‘work for the dole’ is still supposed to turn passive recipients of unemployment benefits into active job seekers - or else. The recipients of benefits are amongst the most disadvantaged in every sense - including in access to the media. Indeed, they are more likely to be humiliated than assisted. When everything else fails they could be referred to as ‘job snobs’, who do not want to work. At mid-April 2011 the ‘Labor’ Prime Minister told the jobless to “pull their weight.” Sounds familiar ? This, of course, appeals to the ‘contented classes’ who would never doubt that their highly paid, occasionally, extravagantly paid, emoluments are by definition well deserved, as against the low paid jobs of the working poor, who are a fraud of the first order on the community. There are, it seems, no active union organisers - only “union thugs”. In 1998, during a protracted waterfront dispute, the Australian stevedoring workers were accused of costing the economy billions of dollars a year and to be denying others jobs. They were held responsible for “damaging Australia’s reputation as a reliable supplier of goods.” The Minister for Industrial Relations constantly asserted that the Union was “holding the country to ransom, used bully boy tactics, had undue influence on work practices, and had a ‘stop-at-nothing approach’.” The Howard Government, proceeding on that assumption - no doubt carefully tested in publicly funded opinion polling, knew very well that, simply to mention the word ‘wharfies’ to some Australians would cause them to run in fear. The Minister thought nothing of importing balaclava-clad scabs fully trained in Dubai and assisted by assault dogs to be unleashed against the waterfront workers. There are “illegals” - assigned to a class of non-persons. If somebody disagrees and organise that disagreement s/he is assigned the label which is meant to silence her/him or discredit her/his views. Media hired pens or mouths profitably join in to propagate insults, denigrating dissenters as “bleeding hearts” or members of the “chattering classes”, or of the “Aboriginal industry”. After the aggression on Afghanistan and Iraq, when asylum seekers began to arrive by whatever means, they were officially branded as “illegals”. This is presently the language of the average Australian - thanks to irresponsible shock-jocks and rabid ‘journalists’. 48 A climate of political fear, inaugurated by Menzies and perfected by Howard was not abandoned - only reworded as ‘border protection’ - by the Rudd/Gillard Governments. Thus victims came to be blamed for their own conditions. From that to religious bigotry the step became almost ‘natural’. Not only that - the perpetrators of that infamy turned themselves into defenders of Muslim women in Afghanistan ! In the meantime, in Australia, Muslim migrants from India or intending-migrant- university- full-fee-paying students in particular, have experienced frequent antagonism, regular racial slurs, and violence, all of which has resulted in great distress to them and a financial crisis for the ‘education industry’. With recurring frequency, members of the Muslim community are being told ‘to shape up’ or ‘clear out’ and to ensure the teaching of ‘Australian values’ in their schools or risk losing their funding. Nor were Australian subjects immune from such attitude. Such uncouthness is not only directed to ‘different’, ‘illegal’ - generally unwanted - persons. There are countless stories, too, of the intimidation of public servants in the Commonwealth Government. The politicisation of the once-public service has become so pervasive that ‘public servants’ zealously anticipate government directives and protect ministers from reasonable scrutiny - and all for fear of what is ‘different’. Ministerial responsibility is regarded as a quaint, ancient relic of more naive times. Ms. Cornelia Rau is a case in point: she is a German citizen and Australian permanent resident who was unlawfully detained for a period of ten months in 2004 and 2005 as part of the Australian Government’s mandatory detention programme. Suffering from schizophrenia, she disappeared from a Manly Hospital in March 2004, and, in February 2005, it was revealed that she had been unlawfully detained at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre, a prison, and later at Baxter Detention Centre, after being classified as a suspected illegal immigrant or non-citizen by the Immigration Department when, under a crisis, she refused to reveal her true identity. Her detention became the subject of a government inquiry which was later expanded to investigate over 200 other cases of 49 suspected unlawful detention by the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. Ms. Rau is currently living in Adelaide. Ms. Vivian Alvarez Solon, an Australian, suffering mental and physical health problems, was unlawfully removed to the Philippines, where she was born, by the same Department in July 2001. In May 2005 it became public knowledge that she had been deported, although the Department knew of the initial mistake in 2003, but failed to act. After the ordeal, Ms. Solon was able to return to Australia in November 2005. In each case an overwhelmingly damning report was delivered to Parliament. In both cases the ‘responsible’ ministers refused to accept any responsibility at all on the grounds that they did not know anything about the incidents investigated in the reports. Prime Minister Howard had deliberately ‘abused’ the wording and effect of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility which was that “for every act or neglect of his Department a minister must answer.” Middle level public servants would suffer for what was obviously the consequence of a relentless government campaign to demonise and expel ‘unlawful non- citizens’. After the outrages on 11 September 2001 in the United States, the Howard Government was quick in proposing legislation to justify further police-state powers. And from then on - and after the October 2002 Bali bombing, the March 2004 Madrid train bombing, the July 2005 London subway bombing and countless others - there has been an escalation of measures restricting civil liberties. The Australian Government has been ratcheting up the so- called ‘war on terror’, hoping to foment fresh fears and insecurities to divert from its mounting political problems. The ‘national security’ minister, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, submitted to Parliament bill after bill for acts which further violated human rights. At mid-2003, and with the support of the Labor Party, the Howard Government succeeded in pressing the Australian Parliament to approve an unprecedented piece of legislation giving the government’s political police the sort of arbitrary power normally associated with fascist regimes or military juntas. In Opposition, and in eleven years in Government, Howard was a deft handler of the Australian populace. He knew their fears and phobias and he was masterful in playing on 50 them, deploying them, managing them, manoeuvring them. He did two things. He prodded their fears, and then he offered them reassurance. He inflamed and then soothed, supplied the anxiety and also the temporary solution. He lasted that long because he was the ‘real’ Australian. There was hardly anything new in this technique. During the long sixteen years of previous ‘anti-Labor’ regime, Menzies’ years 1949 to 1966, the language of fear had been adopted and perfected. Menzies had found ‘spiritual value’ in the Nazi regime and exalted it on his return from Germany in November 1938. The language is familiar. There were those who belong and ‘the different’: the Communist, the Jews, the Gypsies, the homosexuals, the mentally deficient - ‘the others’, in other words. After a fairly long period of Haw/Keating corporatist ‘Accord’ - to pacify the workers, Howard could resume the attack on ‘different’ Australians, and find skilled collaborators. A leading Stock Exchange gambler, one of the major supporters of the New Right agenda and the mining industry’s campaign against land rights for Black Australians, found a way of grounding on divine authority - Christian, of course - that industry’s demands that it be allowed to mine on land claimed by Indigenous People as sacred. Even more bizarrely, he warned that if land rights were granted that would constitute a sanction of “infanticide, cannibalism and cruel initiation rights.” It would be a “step to the world of paganism, superstition, fear and darkness.” He had no restraint in plumbing the depths of such dark, racist fears. Howard said not a word - just sat on the side, comfortable and relaxed. In the nineties, during the native title debates, Australians complacently heard that the original inhabitants of the continent should be treated as outsiders who threatened to appropriate “our” lands, invade “our” suburbs and “take what does not belong to them.” Some State premiers campaigned - successfully ! - on such outrageous rubbish. On that ‘platform’, at the end of that decade a comprehensively illiterate candidate obtained more than one million votes and was able to enter the Senate. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation now has had for almost ten years the power to detain and question people without charge or trial. A.S.I.O. and Federal Police officers can raid anyone’s home or office, at any hour of the day or night, and forcibly take one away, 51 strip-search her/him, interrogate and hold her/him incommunicado, for all practical purposes indefinitely. The initial empowering Act and the many which followed represent a fundamental assault on basic human rights. They give the security and intelligence agencies unfettered arbitrary and repressive power, marking a dramatic step towards the implementation of authoritarian rule. A person has no right to know why s/he is being picked up for interrogation. If s/he resists, force, including lethal force, may be used. If s/he refuses to answer any question or hand over any material that A.S.I.O. alleges s/he possesses, s/he faces five year’s gaol. A detainees, including teenagers as young as 16, is unable to contact her/his families, friends, political associates or the media. In effect, one can be kidnapped by the secret police without anyone’s knowledge. If one knows the name of a lawyer, s/he may contact her/him for legal advice, but only if A.S.I.O. does not object to the lawyer. Initial detention can last for up to seven days, including three eight-hour blocks of questioning over three days, but the Attorney-General can easily approve further seven-day periods. To justify serial extensions, A.S.I.O. and the government simply need to claim that ‘additional or materially different’ information has come to light. Almost simultaneously, all States, which were then all governed by ‘Labor’, responded by enacting complementary legislation, handing over the State’s anti-terrorism powers to the Howard Government, and with the enthusiastic support of the ‘Liberal’ Party, of course. Mirroring acts enabled the police to obtain warrants to enter any premises, by force or impersonation if necessary, to search and seize anything without the knowledge of any occupier or owner. The New South Wales Government had led the way, so to say. In Victoria, the second most populous State, the government had legislation enacted which gives the State police the power - for the first time - secretly to enter, search and ‘bug’ homes, as well as forcibly to enter and search premises. In Queensland, the ‘Labor’ Premier was moved to giving ‘serious consideration’ to 50 Crime and Misconduct Commission recommendations, which included allowing police to conduct covert searches without warrants. More illiberal provisions followed at the end of 2003, when the Federal Government was able - with the concurrence of Labor - to have legislation passed which effectively forbade all public protest against, or even reporting of, the use of the new detention and interrogation powers of A.S.I.O. It is now a crime, punishable by up to five year’s gaol, publicly to 52 mention any operation involving A.S.I.O.’s unprecedented powers to detain and interrogate people without charge, simply on the allegation that one may have information relating to terrorism. The very fact that someone has been detained cannot be discussed publicly for up to 28 days, until after the detention warrant expires. No other information about the detention can be disclosed for two years. Moreover, even if A.S.I.O. itself breaks the law, for example by detaining someone for more than seven days without obtaining a new warrant, any journalist who reports the case could be imprisoned. In effect, these measures outlaw political campaigns against arbitrary or illegal detentions. A lawyer’s activity is also curtailed: the law prohibits a detainee or her/his lawyer from alerting the family, the media or anyone else that s/he has been detained. As a result of more than two decades of unrelenting ‘law-and-order’ campaigns, Australians are far too ready to gaol people rather than seeking other forms of sentencing. Too many politicians have been seduced into a kind of ‘penal arms race’, and into implementing costly and ineffective policies. They have embraced penal populism, enacting policies which are based primarily on their anticipated popularity rather than their effectiveness. Some eminent lawyers, and even the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, condemned the Howard Government’s Anti-Terrorism legislation as a violation of international human rights law, but Prime Minister Howard and the Australian State ‘Labor’ premiers stood together in favour of the repressive measures. Centuries of political and social struggles have attempted to stop barbaric methods being employed by the State. Demands for strict limits on the powers of the formerly monarchical and absolutist state were at the centre of the great ‘bourgeois’ revolutions even in England in the seventeenth century, and in France and the United States in the eighteenth century. The struggle against such methods formed the basis of the liberal doctrines, based on the rights of the individual, associated with the rise of the bourgeoisie. But Australia has had no revolution - bourgeois or otherwise - and still has no Bill of Rights. 53 According to a recent Amnesty International survey, the techniques currently employed by various governments include “beating, whipping, burning, rape, suspension upside down, submersion into water almost to the point of suffocation, and electric torture with shocks of high voltage on various parts of the body, very often on the genitals.” But those things happen elsewhere, ‘over there’. Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantánamo are ‘deplorable necessities’, and anyway beyond Australia’s control. Notions of complicity with a Great-And- Powerful-Friend are too esoteric for ignorant Philistines. If the police transports a Black Australian for many hundreds of kilometres, on a hot day, in a van in which the temperature was estimated at 50 degrees Celsius, without windows, air and air conditioner, without ever stopping for the prisoner to relieve himself, without food or water, there is a mixture of disbelief, disapproval - suddenly set aside with a ‘dirty nigger’ comment ... and a promise by the State to investigate. It happened less than three years ago - no one heard about it since. There is more: to the above list of violent torture practices prepared by Amnesty International, the organisation was forced to add “psychological devices, including threats, deceit, humiliation, insults, sleep deprivation, blindfolding, isolation, mock executions, witnessing torture of others (including one’s own family), being forced to torture or kill others, and the withholding of medication or personal items.” It should be emphasised: even sleep deprivation, because the Attorney-General of the Howard Government expressed the view that that is not a form of torture ! And damned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, both of which were ratified by Australia ! Was the Attorney- General influenced by a well-known Harvard law professor’s call - after 9/11 - for United States judges to issue ‘torture warrants’ ? Whatever the reason, the Attorney-General’s view might have encouraged two Australian academic lawyers openly to advocate torture in a paper published in 2005. When governments become accustomed to abuse of power through the use of fear and amidst the populace’s indifference; there is no limit to what they may do. In June 2008 the ‘Labor’ Premier of New South Wales had no difficulty in introducing sweeping police powers further to suppress civil liberties during the month-long Catholic World Youth Day events in Sydney, 54 culminating with a massive address by Pope Benedict XVI. By executive order and regulation, which established more than 600 ‘controlled areas’ throughout Sydney, Police were empowered in control areas to search members of the public, their vehicles and personal belonging and to arrest and fine those whose actions may be deemed offensive to Catholic pilgrims. The ‘controlled areas’ included some 500 Catholic and State schools, tertiary institutions - including the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales, public transport hubs, parks - including the Botanic Gardens and a major park, and cultural venues - including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the State Theatre and the Sydney Opera House, a racecourse and sporting venues. Preventive detention and ‘control orders’ are the tools of fear-inducing State power. One such ‘control order’ was imposed for the first time in 2006 on an unfortunate Melbournian. A recent convert to Islam, he was on a visit to Afghanistan in March 2001, six months before the 11 September attacks. A person of modest means in more ways than one, including financial, after the United States invasion he decided to accept cash from an al- Qaeda-linked individual to return to Australia. Caught by Pakistani Police and held prisoner for five months from January 2003, Pakistani, American and Australian intelligence and police officials tortured him in Pakistan, using all available physical and mental abuses. Finally released without charge, he was delivered to the Australian Federal Police. From mid-2003 he lived in Melbourne with his wife and children, under close surveillance by police and A.S.I.O. which suddenly arrested him in late 2004 - the charge: terrorist activity; and subjected to a ‘control order’, after 18 months, just as the Howard Government was preparing a further round of ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation, including provisions for closed trials, secret witnesses and media restrictions. His ordeal would end when, after six years of persecution, in October 2008, a Victorian Supreme Court jury acquitted him of all charges. Presumption of guilt pervades certain aspects of criminal law in Australia and is unashamedly used by governments. The case of former Solomon Islands’ Attorney-General Julian Moti, a Fiji-born Australian subject, is the most recent illustration of such bias. 55 Australia carries out a neo-colonial Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands - the official name: RA.M.S.I. Julian Moti was suspected with harbouring doubt about the ‘civilising function’ of R.A.M.S.I. Between 1997 and 1999 allegations that Moti had sexually abused a 13-year-old girl were first levelled against him in Vanuatu. The charges, however, were thrown out of court, with the magistrate describing the attempted prosecution as “unjust and oppressive” due to the absence of evidence and glaring inconsistencies and contradictions in the alleged victim’s statements. Local prosecutors did not appeal the decision and the issue was closed - until late 2004. Then the Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, dredged up the allegations as a means of preventing Moti from being appointed to the position of Solomons’ Attorney-General. The subsequent Australian Federal Police investigation served as the means for removing Moti from the Solomon Islands and the destruction of his legal career throughout the South Pacific. The Howard Government’s unrelenting pursuit of Moti formed part of its provocative ‘regime change’ campaign in 2006-07 against the Solomons’ government of Manasseh Sogavare, waged to sustain R.A.M.S.I. Moti was unlawfully removed from the Solomons on 27 December 2007, by being taken from his home, bundled onto an airplane, flown to Brisbane where he was immediately arrested at the airport by waiting A.F.P. officers. The so called ‘deportation’ proceedings went ahead in violation of a local magistrate’s court ruling specifically prohibiting Moti’s ‘deportation’. Moreover, that amounted to a violation of the Solomon’s Deportation Act, which provides for a seven-day appeal period. All this occurred following the revocation of his position as Attorney-General by a pro-Australian Government, which was installed after Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare became victim of a protracted ‘regime change’ campaign. Such removal of Moti was nothing more than a ‘disguised extradition’ and not a deportation as the prosecution claimed before the Queensland Supreme Court, where Moti was standing trial - again - this time under the Australian child sex tourism laws. That such charge had been dismissed in Vanuatu a decade before counted for naught. As it turned out the A.F.P. and the Director of Public Prosecutions violated Moti’s basic legal rights by withholding vital documents. His right to liberty was breached, his civil rights were breached, the rule of law was breached, he was illegally seized and taken to Australia, before he could lodge an appeal against the ‘deportation’, and the Australia Government was a knowing party to all of that. 56 Moti lost the case. He appealed and lost again. At mid-April 2011 the High Court of Australia was called upon to consider whether the government turned a blind eye to the illegal rendition of Moti in 2007. The Court had granted special leave to hear the case and would also examine whether the payment of near AU$ 150,000 to the alleged victim and her family brought the administration of justice into disrepute. In fact, in February 2008 - under the new Rudd/Gillard ‘Labor’ Government - the Australian police began paying monthly sums of AU$ 1,290 to the alleged victim’s brother, AU$ 480 to her father, and AU$ 2,475 to her mother. These payments were made while the family continued to live as usually in Vanuatu, where the minimum monthly wage was just AU$ 240. According to a November 2010 article in the Melbourne Age, “payments to the complainant and her family have reached at least AU$ 300,000 - double what was revealed in court in 2009.” From the defence, the Court heard that “Australian authorities assisted [Moti’s] unlawful rendition to Australia”, by handing his new passport to Solomon Islands police, arranging his arrest in Brisbane and paying accommodation for the Solomon Islanders who escorted him.” The defence also said that “[the A.F.P. agent] knew the deportation was unlawful.” The Court was also told that the “Australian ‘witness assistance’ payments to the alleged victim may have been an abuse of process.” Further, the defence submitted that “The right-thinking person would correctly perceive a link between the political genesis of the prosecution, the means by which [Moti] was brought to the jurisdiction, and the extraordinary payments being made to keep the prosecution on foot.” The Australian Government’s plan suffered a contretemps towards the end of March 2011 when the father of the victim confessed on his death-bed that his daughter had ulterior motives when she first accused Moti in 1997-98. And the motive ? The 13- year-old girl, according to the father, had levelled the rape allegations against Moti to try to prevent the family, who are all Tahitian nationals, from being deported from Vanuatu for violating visa conditions. The father accused the A.F.P. of threatening his family - “if we did not cooperate it would go against us.” As a result, “fear was in the house.” Nevertheless the A.F.P. offered inducements. He apologised to Julian Moti and his family, with whom he had been friends, declaring that neither he nor his wife would continue to cooperate with the attempted prosecution of Moti. 57 At the end of such revealing confession, the girl’s father said: “We have all been battered by all this. ... The people who have pressed the button to start all this [were to blame].” And he pointed the finger towards the Australian Government at the time. On 15 December 2009 Justice Debbie Mullins of the Queensland Supreme Court ruled that there had been an abuse of process and stayed the indictment against Moti. She held that “questions about the integrity of the administration of the Australian justice system [arise] when witnesses who live in a foreign country, expected to be fully supported by the Australian Government until they gave evidence at the trial in Australia.” On 7 December 2011 the High Court of Australia ordered a stay of charges, ruling that Australian officials' participation in Moti's extradition from the Solomons had been unlawful under Solomon Islands law. Summarising its ruling, the court said: “Further prosecution of the charges would be an abuse of process because of the role that Australian officials in Mr Moti being deported to Australia.” This was a permanent stay of prosecution putting an end to all court proceedings against Moti. Mr. Manasseh Sogavare stated, in response to the ruling: “I am so pleased. This matter has hung like a dark cloud over me and my government. This decision has vindicated me.” On 12 June 2012 Mr. Moti announced that he will sue the government. Moti’s tribulations had begun under the Howard Government; they would continue under the Rudd/Gillard Government. Names might have changed, Australia’s ruthless neo-colonial interventions through the Southwest Pacific continue. Yet, there is much fracas about ‘multiculturalism’ - a wonderful goal gone sour because people of scarce appreciation for culture can hardly be serious about multi-culture. In the hand of skilful manipulators multiculturalism risks becoming a form of populist cretinism manoeuvred by Government Philistinism for electoral purposes. Most every thinking person realises it. In reality, one should pay attention to some ‘necessary associations’ between ‘Middle Eastern thugs’, organised crime’, and drug trafficking.’ Members of what Galbraith called ‘the contented class’, John Howard’s ‘comfortable and relaxed’ kleptocracy, would not ‘inside trade’, of course, nor ‘consume’ other than for purpose of entertainment ! Ça va sans dire ! 58 13 Cronyism and corruption have lived so long amongst humans that it is fair to say they preceded The Bible, where many precedents are recorded. This is not to say that in Australia cronyism and corruption are all around. Transparency International provides every year a ‘corruption perception index’ of 183 countries and it is sad to see that, in the latest which is for 2011, Australia figures eighth in a decreasing scale, after New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Singapore, Norway and The Netherlands. Opportunity for cronyism and corruption in Australia is greater when the Coalition parties are in power - if for no other reason than at least at the federal level they have been in government for some 65 years since Federation. Sometimes excessive publicity is given to episodes of squalor by the media, which are by and large in the hands of Grand Corruptors. Thus much evidence was given to the case of a couple of ‘lifters’ involved in an episode of bullying at a coastal night club - he a powerful state minister and she a federal representative. So, would ‘Labor’ people content themselves with something less than cronyism - nepotism, perhaps ? Then there is the case of a state minister who made the beau jeste of resigning her position to tend to her son, soon thereafter to return to parliament as deputy premier - no less, and always with her shoulders well guarded by the husband, a powerful federal minister. But these are modest, if glaring examples of cronyism. Of course, a populace so conditioned by intellectually corrupt media would be expected to wonder what qualifications ‘union hacks’ hold. No question is ever asked about corporate honchoes, perhaps because having money, or a flexible conscience - and preferably both, is regarded as a sufficient title. Nothing news about that: the Medici proceeded on the motto: “Money to get power, power to protect money”. Only notice the final result ! The ‘Liberals’, in particular, have always had more opportunities, not only for the length of their holding power but also because they come from a social milieu which flourishes in ‘private enterprise’ and can afford to enlist the best-paid ‘turf-accountants’ to minimise their 59 taxes, or retain the ablest - or if not the best connected - lawyers, who in turn speak the language most welcome by a classist judicial system. And all that takes place under the patronage of the monarchy which, naturally, personifies cronyism and is the source of corruption - not exclusively of the financial kind. ‘Labor’ - whatever that has come to mean nowadays - must content itself of the crumbs. Anyway, nobody could - without blushing - accuse ‘Labor’ of running a meritocracy. Then there are cases rendered less obvious to the naked eye by the application of the Axminster System - which is the classical, subtropical corruption of the Westminster type, and good for a carpet - under which whereby matters ‘too delicate’ can be swept. Example: early in 2009 the Victorian Transport Minister ‘locked away’ all the documents of the disputed construction of Melbourne’s AU$ 700 million Southern Cross Station. Transparency and accountability were postponed - until 2058. The decision was hardly unusual. It has become standard practice for Australian governments - at all levels - to ‘spare’ the public the ‘boring’, detailed information which would allow any assessment to be made of large infrastructure contracts. Nowhere is the trend more pronounced than with respect to so-called public-private partnerships, projects in which private parties take responsibility for financing, constructing and operating public-use infrastructure, in exchange for the right to receive user fees and charges. And here another value, so dear to the Westminster System, comes into play: ‘tradition’. It should be remembered that one of the very first public buildings in the colony of New South Wales, the Sydney Hospital, was erected by an extremely corrupt PPP. While concession arrangements for toll roads and other infrastructure assets have existed since time immemorial, they were ‘rediscovered’ and renamed PPPs in the late 1980s and have since become a primary means of financing mega-projects, with applications ranging from tunnels and desalination plants to hospitals and prisons. The change in branding from concessions to PPPs is hardly innocent. A concession by a government to a private party of the right to undertake and charge for a monopoly asset has a clear negative connotation: taxpayers are giving up something which would otherwise rightly be theirs. Who, on the other hand, could object to a partnership, with all the sense of shared obligation that word implies ? As with nation building, here words are being used not to assist understanding but to mislead. For whether the contracts are indeed a partnership, and one which delivers net 60 benefits to the community, is a question of fact, not of form. The crucial issues are whether the projects are worth doing and whether the concession contract provides the project outcomes at least cost to the community. Regardless of the final result, and its real utility, everyone's a winner. The firms undertaking the projects cash the rents. Governments gain more ribbon-cutting opportunities, vocal support from PPP firms, lucrative jobs for their ‘mates’ and welcome donations to campaign coffers. Only taxpayers and users suffer, but then again, ignorance is bliss. Little wonder that PPPs have proved increasingly popular with incompetent state governments and are now being vigorously promoted by the Gillard Government. Full disclosure of all PPP contracts, and of the cost-benefit analyses underpinning PPP projects, is indispensable if these costs are to be averted. And no suggestion is proffered here of illegitimate personal gain by public persons. It is just the ‘new way’ of doing things. On the other hand, political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism - to some extent, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. While corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking, it is not restricted to these activities. In some cases, government officials have broad or poorly defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal actions. Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to involve over US$ 1 trillion annually. When a government confers a benefit onto some companies and not others it is playing favourites. Sometimes it is called ‘picking winners’. Sometimes it is called ‘targeted assistance’. The result is the same. But the opportunities for influence, peddling and calling in favours, take off when a government starts being selective. There is no problem with individuals or companies trying to influence government. This is what representative government is all about. Every voter who casts a ballot is trying to influence government - and sometimes a voter benefits, albeit indirectly, from particular policies. It is quite different when a broad policy applies equally to people of like circumstances - a tax cut for those on certain income or childcare assistance for those with children in like circumstances. But it becomes a problem when the practice is narrowed down to particular companies in particular 61 industries - where special benefits go to people who seek special access to obtain them. Special influence looking for special benefits is a recipe for cronyism. Outside public funding, there are no guaranteed sources of financial support for political parties apart from the union movement's donations to Labor. Business support is contested. Some businesses support both sides of politics. Some support neither. Many skew their support to the party which happens to be in government - after all, the decisions which affect their business are made by the government not opposition. The late Chalmers Johnson, reviewing a book by Emeritus Professor Sheldon Wolin, who well over two generations taught the history of political philosophy from Plato to the present to Berkeley and Princeton graduate students, made some observations of a general character which - mutatis mutandis - apply to Australia, too. “Our political system of checks and balances - wrote Wolin - has been virtually destroyed by rampant cronyism and corruption in Washington, D.C., and by a two-term president who goes around crowing “I am the decider,” a concept fundamentally hostile to our constitutional system. We have allowed our elections, the one nonnegotiable institution in a democracy, to be debased and hijacked ... ” Wolin’s new book Democracy incorporated: managed democracy and the specter of inverted totalitarianism is a devastating critique of the contemporary government of the United States - including what has happened to it in recent years and what must be done if it is not to disappear into history along with its classic totalitarian predecessors: Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, National-Catholic Spain and Soviet Russia. The hour is very late and the possibility that the American people might pay attention to what is wrong and take the difficult steps to avoid a national Götterdämmerung are remote, but Wolin’s is the best analysis of why even the presidential election of 2008 probably would have done nothing to mitigate America’s fate. Wolin’s work is fully accessible and includes particular attention to the advanced levels of social democracy attained during the New Deal and the contemporary mythology that the United States, beginning during the second world war, wields unprecedented world power. 62 Wolin introduces three new concepts to help analyse what Americans have lost as a nation. His master idea is “inverted totalitarianism,” which is reinforced by two subordinate notions which accompany and promote it - “managed democracy” and “Superpower,” the latter always capitalised and used without a direct article. Until the reader becomes familiar with this particular literary tic, the term Superpower can be confusing. The author uses it as if it were an independent agent, comparable to Superman or Spiderman, and one which is inherently incompatible with constitutional government and democracy. Wolin writes, “Our thesis … is this: it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively ‘strong democracy’ instead of a ‘failed’ one.” His understanding of democracy is classical but also populist, anti-elitist and only slightly represented in the Constitution of the United States. “Democracy,” he writes, “is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs.” It depends on the existence of a demos - “a politically engaged and empowered citizenry, one that voted, deliberated, and occupied all branches of public office.” Wolin argues that “The American political system was not born a democracy, but born with a bias against democracy. It was constructed by those who were either skeptical about democracy or hostile to it. Democratic advance proved to be slow, uphill, forever incomplete. The republic existed for three-quarters of a century before formal slavery was ended; another hundred years before black Americans were assured of their voting rights. Only in the twentieth century were women guaranteed the vote and trade unions the right to bargain collectively. In none of these instances has victory been complete: women still lack full equality, racism persists, and the destruction of the remnants of trade unions remains a goal of corporate strategies. Far from being innate, democracy in America has gone against the grain, against the very forms by which the political and economic power of the country has been and continues to be ordered.” Wolin can easily control his enthusiasm for James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, and he sees the New Deal as perhaps the only period of American history in which rule by a true demos prevailed. To reduce a complex argument to its bare bones, since the Depression, the twin forces of managed democracy and Superpower have opened the way for something new under the sun: “inverted totalitarianism,” a form every bit as totalistic as the classical version but one based 63 on internalised co-optation, the appearance of freedom, political disengagement rather than mass mobilisation, and relying more on ‘private media’ than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda which reinforces the official version of events. It is inverted because it does not require the use of coercion, police power and a messianic ideology as in the Nazi, Fascist and Stalinist versions. According to Wolin, inverted totalitarianism has “emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation’s political traditions.” The genius of American inverted totalitarian system “lies in wielding total power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements so long as they remain ineffectual. … A demotion in the status and stature of the ‘sovereign people’ to patient subjects is symptomatic of systemic change, from democracy as a method of ‘popularizing’ power to democracy as a brand name for a product marketable at home and marketable abroad. … The new system, inverted totalitarianism, is one that professes the opposite of what, in fact, it is. … The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed.” Among the factors which have promoted inverted totalitarianism are the practice and psychology of advertising and the rule of ‘market forces’ in many other contexts than markets, continuous technological advances which encourage elaborate fantasies - computer games, virtual avatars, space travel - the penetration of mass media communication and propaganda into every household in the country, and the total co-optation of the universities. Among the commonplace fables of the Australian, as well as of the American, society are hero worship and tales of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through surgery, action measured in nanoseconds, and a dream-laden culture of ever- expanding control and possibility, the adepts of which are prone to fantasies because the vast majority have imagination but little scientific knowledge. Masters of this world are masters of images and their manipulation. Wolin reminds the reader that the image of Hitler flying to Nuremberg in 1934 which opens Leni Riefenstahl’s classic film Triumph of the will was repeated on 1 May 2003, with President George Bush’s apparent landing of a Navy warplane on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln to proclaim “Mission accomplished” in Iraq. 64 On inverted totalitarianism’s “self-pacifying” university campuses compared with the usual intellectual turmoil surrounding independent centres of learning, Wolin writes, “Through a combination of governmental contracts, corporate and foundation funds, joint projects involving university and corporate researchers, and wealthy individual donors, universities (especially so-called research universities), intellectuals, scholars, and researchers have been seamlessly integrated into the system. No books burned, no refugee Einsteins. For the first time in the history of American higher education top professors are made wealthy by the system, commanding salaries and perks that a budding CEO might envy.” The main social sectors promoting and reinforcing this modern Shangri-La are corporate power, which is in charge of managed democracy, and the military-industrial complex, which is in charge of Superpower. The main objectives of managed democracy are to increase the profits of large corporations, dismantle the institutions of social democracy - Social Security, unions, welfare, public health services, public housing and so forth, and roll back the social and political ideals of the New Deal. Its primary tool is privatisation. Managed democracy aims at the “selective abdication of governmental responsibility for the well-being of the citizenry” under cover of improving “efficiency” and cost-cutting. Wolin argues: “The privatization of public services and functions manifests the steady evolution of corporate power into a political form, into an integral, even dominant partner with the state. It marks the transformation of American politics and its political culture from a system in which democratic practices and values were, if not defining, at least major contributing elements, to one where the remaining democratic elements of the state and its populist programs are being systematically dismantled.” This campaign has largely succeeded. “Democracy represented a challenge to the status quo, today it has become adjusted to the status quo.” One other subordinate task of managed democracy is to keep the citizenry preoccupied with peripheral and/or private conditions of human life so that they fail to focus on the widespread corruption and betrayal of the public trust. In Wolin’s words, “The point about disputes on such topics as the value of sexual abstinence, the role of religious charities in state-funded activities, the question of gay marriage, and the like, is that they are not framed to be resolved. Their political function is to divide the citizenry while obscuring class differences 65 and diverting the voters’ attention from the social and economic concerns of the general populace.” Another élite tactic of managed democracy is to bore the electorate to such an extent that it gradually fails to pay any attention to politics. Wolin perceives, “One method of assuring control is to make electioneering continuous, year-round, saturated with party propaganda, punctuated with the wisdom of kept pundits, bringing a result boring rather than energizing, the kind of civic lassitude on which managed democracy thrives.” Wolin adds: “Every apathetic citizen is a silent enlistee in the cause of inverted totalitarianism.” And he wondered whether an Obama candidacy could reawaken these apathetic voters, although he suspected that a barrage of corporate media character assassination would end this possibility. Managed democracy is a powerful solvent for any vestiges of democracy left in the American political system, but its powers are weak in comparison with those of Superpower. Superpower is the sponsor, defender and manager of American imperialism and militarism, aspects of American government which have always been dominated by élites, enveloped in executive-branch secrecy, and allegedly beyond the ken of ordinary citizens to understand or oversee. Superpower is preoccupied with weapons of mass destruction, clandestine manipulation of foreign policy (sometimes domestic policy, too), military operations, and the fantastic sums of money demanded from the public by the military-industrial complex. Foreign military operations literally force democracy to change its nature: “In order to cope with the imperial contingencies of foreign war and occupation,” according to Wolin, “democracy will alter its character, not only by assuming new behaviors abroad (e.g., ruthlessness, indifference to suffering, disregard of local norms, the inequalities in ruling a subject population) but also by operating on revised, power-expansive assumptions at home. It will, more often than not, try to manipulate the public rather than engage its members in deliberation. It will demand greater powers and broader discretion in their use (’state secrets’), a tighter control over society’s resources, more summary methods of justice, and less patience for legalities, opposition, and clamor for socioeconomic reforms.” 66 Over the years, American political analysis has carefully tried to separate the military from imperialism, even though militarism is imperialism’s inescapable accompaniment. The military creates the empire in the first place and is indispensable to its defence, policing and expansion. Wolin observes, “That the patriotic citizen unswervingly supports the military and its huge budgets means that conservatives have succeeded in persuading the public that the military is distinct from the government. Thus the most substantial element of state power is removed from public debate.” It has taken a long time, but under George W. Bush’s administration the United States finally achieved an official ideology of imperial expansion comparable to those of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianisms. In accordance with the National Security Strategy of the United States - allegedly drafted by Condoleezza Rice and proclaimed on 9 September 2002, the United States is now committed to what it calls “preemptive war.” Wolin explains: “Preemptive war entails the projection of power abroad, usually against a far weaker country, comparable say, to the Nazi invasion of Belgium and Holland in 1940. It declares that the United States is justified in striking at another country because of a perceived threat that U.S. power will be weakened, severely damaged, unless it reacts to eliminate the danger before it materializes. Preemptive war is Lebensraum [Hitler’s claim that his imperialism was justified by Germany’s need for “living room”] for the age of terrorism.” This was, of course, the official excuse for the American aggression against Iraq which began in 2003. Many analysts would conclude that Wolin has made a close to airtight case that the American Republic’s days are numbered, but Wolin himself does not agree. Towards the end of his study he produces a wish list of things which should be done to ward off the disaster of inverted totalitarianism: “rolling back the empire, rolling back the practices of managed democracy; returning to the idea and practices of international cooperation rather than the dogmas of globalization and preemptive strikes; restoring and strengthening environmental protections; reinvigorating populist politics; undoing the damage to our system of individual rights; restoring the institutions of an independent judiciary, separation of powers, and checks and balances; reinstating the integrity of the independent regulatory agencies and of scientific advisory processes; reviving representative systems responsive to popular needs for health care, education, guaranteed pensions, and an honorable minimum wage; restoring 67 governmental regulatory authority over the economy; and rolling back the distortions of a tax code that toadies to the wealthy and corporate power.” Unfortunately, this is more a guide to what has gone wrong than a statement of how to remedy it, particularly since Wolin believes that the American political system is “shot through with corruption and awash in contributions primarily from wealthy and corporate donors.” Corruption as a way of operating has become so common - if not accepted - in Australia that it is possible to access a service on the subject from the Internet. And from it the following juicy items were taken in one single day, at random, while researching this topic: “Australia Corruption News. Service for global professionals. Constantly updated news and information about Australia. Latest Australia Corruption News Migrants 'bribe way to residency' 21 Mar 2011 06:04 GMT ... University staff have been accused of taking bribes to falsify the English test results of ... gain a visa are currently applying for Australian citizenship, a Department of Immigration official has ... Department of Immigration official has told a corruption hearing. Western Australia's corruption watchdog is examining ... Migrants bribe way to residency: hearing 21 Mar 2011 06:11 GMT ... Several migrants who allegedly bribed public servants to gain a visa are ... gain a visa are currently applying for Australian citizenship, a Department of Immigration official has ... Department of Immigration official has told a corruption hearing. Western Australia's corruption watchdog is examining ... Unskilled workers bribe their way to visas 21 Mar 2011 08:26 GMT ... basis of false English-language credentials, a West Australian corruption hearing has heard. The state's Corruption and ... employee at Curtin University of Technology was bribed to falsify records to allow some visa ... 68 E-robbers the new security risk for Australian banks: SAS Institute 21 Mar 2011 02:50 GMT ... According to the SAS Institute's US based fraud strategist, Stu Bradley, who works with some Australian banks on fraud detection policies, local and ... see that as the next area the fraudsters will hit due to the sophistication of ... Curtin Uni staff 'took visa bribes' 21 Mar 2011 05:26 GMT ... University staff have been accused of taking bribes to falsify the English test results of ... English test results of visa applicants, WA's corruption watchdog has heard. The Corruption and Crime ... are currently 34 IELTS test centres across Australia, with four in WA. Mr Quinlan said ... Test scores 'faked after uni bribes' 21 Mar 2011 19:16 GMT ... students paid as much as $11,000 in bribes to have their English language test results ... to help them gain visa applications, a Corruption and Crime Commission hearing has been told. ... visas to work, study or live in Australia. A senior official for the Department of ... Bribes allegedly paid to falsify visa tests 21 Mar 2011 04:42 GMT ... Bribes allegedly paid to falsify visa tests The ... English test score to be improved A Corruption and Crime Commission hearing in Western Australia has been told that a university staff ... Ex-banker faces conspiracy, fraud charges 21 Mar 2011 05:36 GMT ... was involved in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud, which police allege involved inflated property values ... Mohamad Diab, Mohamad Mehajer and a National Australia Bank staffer Mohamad Sowaid to “cheat and ... was approved by soliciting Mr Mehajer to bribe Mr Sowaid. It’s alleged Mr Sowaid was paid ... Formula One cleared of $50m corruption payment 21 Mar 2011 19:51 GMT ... this year's F1 season which begins in Australia this weekend. The investigation surrounded a payment ... was arrested in January on suspicion of bribery, breach of trust and tax evasion. Last ... Corruption Suspected In Lagging Tonga Economy 21 Mar 2011 09:41 GMT ... MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 17, 2011) - The ... weak economy. 69 Another government minister claims widespread corruption and mismanagement is causing most state enterprises ... Ex-banker on conspiracy, fraud charges 21 Mar 2011 12:02 GMT ... was involved in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud, which police allege involved inflated property values ... Mohamad Diab, Mohamad Mehajer and a National Australia Bank staffer Mohamad Sowaid to “cheat and ... Work visas issued on fake claims: hearing 21 Mar 2011 11:20 GMT ... basis of false English-language credentials, a West Australian corruption hearing has heard. The state's Corruption and ... employee at Curtin University of Technology was bribed to falsify records to allow some visa ... WA uni staff faked test results, CCC hears 21 Mar 2011 04:01 GMT ... CURTIN University staff allegedly took bribes to falsify the English test results of ... English test results of visa applicants, West Australia's corruption watchdog has heard. The Corruption and Crime ... English exams for migrants falsified 21 Mar 2011 15:46 GMT ... falsify English tests for potential migrants, a corruption watchdog has been told. Some of the ... whether visas should be revoked. Yesterday, West Australia's Corruption and Crime Commission began public hearings ... Centre were sufficient to detect the alleged fraud. ... When 'Civil-Societyism' Fronts for Barbarism [opinion] 21 Mar 2011 14:01 GMT ... a fraud, rather than accomplice to moral corruption.' Many institutions are guilty of selling favours ... country's subsequent political rot, including a $3-million bribe to the Shaik family from German firm ... post via email and gapping it to Australia. The LSE's ethical collapse is special, not ...” Not a single word has been omitted, or added - for transparency as well as effect ! It was thought at mid-2009 that the reason why Australia had slipped down the international anti-corruption rankings was because of the A.W.B. Oil-for-Food scandal. 70 In addition, Transparency International lamented that many governments simply were not putting enough effort into curbing bribes. The organisation had just recently released an annual report which evaluated the efforts member countries were making to uphold the O.E.C.D.’s Anti-Bribery Convention. Australia did come out in the bottom category, criticised for carrying out little or no practical enforcement against bribery offenses by national businesses operating overseas. That was a category shared by 21 O.E.C.D. countries, as diverse as Turkey, Brazil and Canada. Only four countries are in the top tier, cited for active enforcement, with eleven in the middle with moderate enforcement. In such a climate there was a risk that, unless enforcement both improved and became more uniform across countries, the Anti-Bribery Convention could become irrelevant. Conventions like this cannot afford to fail, otherwise it becomes one of those international conventions which are more valuable on paper than in practice. Especially over the decades prior to the Convention, multinational corporations have helped bribery and corruption become a much worse problem especially in developing countries. As the multinational corporations, especially American and European, went abroad to countries which were vulnerable, the scale of the bribes increased - greedy officials would demand more from foreign investors. This was particularly a problem in the resources sector, and distorted several national economies. The Transparency International reports look at how many foreign investment corruption cases have gone to court, year by year - and how many had resulted in convictions. While not specifically including bribes, Australia’s biggest overseas corruption case for 2009 was the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal and the Australian Wheat Board. Six cases were at the time in the civil courts, but none had yet resulted in convictions - and the recommendations from the Royal Commission into the affair had not been followed up. The lack of results had placed Australia in the bottom group. Countries like the United States and Germany, which have both prosecuted several cases, served as a clear contrast in the top category. Clearly the A.W.B. scandal would not go away, no matter what the Howard Government would do. It was the prevailing opinion that, apart from that scandal, the government itself was incompetent, dishonest and corrupt. It has been proven so in relation to its 71 accountability and other processes following the discovery of restricted and secret intelligence reports and communications between various Australian embassies, trade officials, the United Nations, Australian public servants and the Australian Prime Minister, the then Minister for Trade, who was also Deputy Prime Minister, and the Foreign Minister and their Departments in relation to the A.W.B. scandal. New evidence and supporting material had come to light during an independent investigation into claims that Members of Parliament were holding ‘dirt files’. The ‘dirt files’ claims were proven but in the process of the investigation, and a substantial amount of material related to the A.W.B. scandal as well as documents related to other issues were discovered. The A.W.B. material was held by various Australian agencies and had not been brought to the attention of the Royal Commission looking into the bribes provided to the former Iraqi regime through a straw company in Jordan. The material showed that, in fact, senior Government Ministers were told on a number of occasions that the A.W.B. was providing bribes to Saddam Hussein and his regime, contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Oil-for-Food programme. Copies of confidential and secret diplomatic cables, memoranda, e-mails and other material were found showing that both the then Minister for Trade as well as the Foreign Minister, had received numerous detailed intelligence and other briefings very early on into the scandal. They did nothing. The Foreign Minister noted in one secret memorandum to the Australian Embassy in Jordan that: “No-one will ever find out anyway”. The then Minister for Trade was also advised on a number of occasions as to what was going on. Prime Minister Howard was also briefed on the matter by the various agencies including the Office of National Assessment - O.N.A., as well as the Australia’s international spy agency - A.S.I.S. The same Howard Government which had kept silent over what it knew of the Oil-for-wheat scandal set out ‘to detect, investigate and prevent corrupt conduct’ through the newly formed Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity - A.C.L.E.I., with an Office of the Integrity Commissioner. The Commission was established by an Act of Parliament in 2006, and placed under the responsibility of the Home Affairs and Justice Minister. The agencies subject to the Integrity 72 Commissioner's jurisdiction are the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Federal Police, and the former National Crime Authority. From January 2011 the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service became also subject to the Integrity Commissioner’s independent scrutiny. Other agencies with a law enforcement function may also be added by regulation. A.C.L.E.I's primary role is to investigate law enforcement-related corruption issues, giving priority to serious and systemic corruption. The Integrity Commissioner must consider the nature and scope of corruption revealed by investigations, and report annually on any patterns and trends in corruption in Australian Government law enforcement and other Government agencies which have law enforcement functions. Accordingly, A.C.L.E.I collects intelligence about corruption in support of the Integrity Commissioner's functions. A.C.L.E.I. also aims to understand corruption and prevent it. When, as a consequence of performing her/his functions, the Integrity Commissioner identifies laws of the Commonwealth or administrative practices of government agencies which might contribute to corrupt practices or prevent their early detection, s/he may make recommendations for these laws or practices to be changed. Any person, including members of the public and law enforcement officers, can give information to the Integrity Commissioner. Information can be given in confidence or provided anonymously. Well Juvenal could ask: Quis custodiet ipsos custodies ? – “Who will guard the guards themselves?” After all, who would know about a little bit of corruption work, promoted by ‘benevolent’ organisations such as the one rendered public by the Victoria Ombudsman in March 2011. And the innocent name ? - The Brotherhood. The ‘brothers’ meet for lunch, to hear a guest speaker and then to engage in a bit of ‘networking’. What the Ombudsman discovered about The Brotherhood confirmed the widely held conviction that its activities undermine the community’s confidence in public institutions. Invitees from a list of up to 350 influential people have been attending the lunches every six weeks since the first one was held in 2003. The guests are all men, and the Chatham House Rule applies, i.e. “What is said in the room stays in the room.” 73 The host has been from the beginning the founder, a former policeman between 1988 and 1999, who had come to the attention of the Police Internal Investigations Department for, among other transgressions, assaulting a member of the public, and fined AU$ 200. He now heads two private companies. The founder starts the lunches with the statement “We are all members of The Brotherhood and we must assist each other.” A whistleblower told the Ombudsman that “[the founder’s] motivation for the formation and maintenance of this group is to, amongst other things, provide an environment to facilitate unlawful information trading including confidential police information and other confidential information from government departments. This is in addition to gaining commercial benefits and inside information regarding contracts for tender.” On the invitation list are two ‘Liberal’ State MPs, many current and former police officers including one with alleged links to an organised crime figure. A former Australian Wheat Board executive involved in the Oil-for-wheat scandal is on it, too. So is the manager of a licensed table top dancing venue frequented by Victoria Police officers. Some of the public servants attending maintain databases of sensitive information. It seems that a regular attendee, a senior Victorian Police officer, disclosed the identity of a prosecution witness in a high profile murder trial, contrary to a Supreme Court suppression order. One member used his position at the Traffic Camera Office to annul over AU$ 2,000 worth of speeding fines accumulated by the founder and persons of his companies. The ‘operator’ has denied any wrongdoing but the case has been recommended to police for investigation. The example of The Brotherhood is not unique. The Ombudsman’s report cited the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigations into the ‘Information Exchange Club’ in 1992. This could be added to the mountain of damning reports and inquiries including Royal Commissions into various state Police forces over the decades. Nothing ever seems to happen. ‘Revolving door’ appointments involving positions on boards for retiring, previously highly placed politicians have become routine. The links between public institutions and big business interests - both mainstream and underworld - are becoming well known to the public, but one would be an optimist for 74 thinking that anger at the seemingly endless stream of scandals is growing. It is pressure from the community which leads to the inquiries. It is in response to this same outrage that instrumentalities like the state-based Independent Commissions Against Corruption were established. The demand on big business to abide by their State ‘rule of law’ is certainly justified; and the fight to bring business ‘operators’ to heel must continue. But so long as governments rule on behalf of corporations and the real power in society belongs to an oligarchy the battle will never be successful. 14 Strictly speaking, and barring some rare, isolated cases, there is no electoral fraud in Australia if by that one means ‘illegal interference with an election process’. None of the defining instances of ‘electoral fraud’ is present in Australia - not intimidation, vote buying, misinformation, misleading or confusing ballot papers, ballot stuffing, mis-recording of votes, misuse of proxy votes or destruction or wrongful invalidation of ballots. It is ‘the electoral process’ itself which is fraudulent. Nevertheless, to the extent that the term is sometimes used to describe acts which although legal are considered to be morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of electoral laws or in violation of the principles of democracy, there is fraud. Show elections, in which only one candidate can win, could sometimes be considered to be electoral fraud although they may comply with the law. In national elections, successful electoral fraud can have the effect of a coup d'état or corruption of democracy. In a narrow election a small amount of fraud may be enough to change the result. If the result is not affected, fraud can still have a damaging effect if not punished, as it can reduce voters’ confidence in democracy or, through the voters’ general indifference to politics and the process, can traduce the very substance of democracy. 75 Electoral fraud is not limited to political polls and can occur in any election where the potential gain is worth the risk for the cheater/s - in elections for corporate directorships or Labor union officials, student councils, sports judging, and the awarding of merit to books, films, music or television programmes. Harsh penalties aimed at deterring electoral fraud make it likely that individuals who perpetrate fraud do so with the expectation that it either will not be discovered or will be excused. There has been for long time - in the State of Queensland in particular, but not exclusively - serious ‘Gerrymandering’. This is the practice of political corruption which attempts to establish an electoral advantage for a particular party - in the case the Country Party (Agrarian Socialists), by manipulating geographical boundaries to set up partisan, incumbent- protected, and neutral districts. It takes its name from Elbridge Gerry, a Massachusetts governor who tried it for the first time 200 years ago. During the 2010 Australian federal election there was an attempt at disenfranchising a large number of electors who had not enrolled in the lists before the election was called. After the ousting of Prime Minister Rudd, to justify the manoeuvre, the newly chosen Prime Minister Gillard saw fit to call a snap election, under pressure of media and corporate interests. Australian federal parliaments have three-year terms. The exact timing of national elections is in the hands of the prime minister, and an announcement on 17 July 2010 for a snap poll on 21 August meant that the campaign would last only five weeks and, more importantly, that given that an estimated 1.4 million unregistered voters - a third of them aged 18-24 - had just one day to apply for enrolment, under amendments to the Electoral Act 2006 put forward by the Howard Government, a large number of persons would be unable to vote. The minimum legally permissible time for enrolment and campaigning marked a further sharp erosion of a truly democratic process. On 6 August 2010 GetUp !, a political advocacy group, won its High Court challenge to the constitutional validity of the changes to the Electoral Act 2006. This led to up to 100,000 more Australians being added to the roll for the election. After much experimentation and change over the past 150 years, Australia has settled for electoral arrangements which are portrayed by federal government of either hue as “accepted by Australia’s people, political parties, and parliamentarians.” This is far from the truth. Nevertheless, the system is used in the federal and many state parliaments of Australia and in 76 municipal, major political party, trade union, church, company boards, voluntary bodies and sports clubs elections ! Practically the Australian electorate has been voting under three types of voting systems: first past the post, preferential voting and proportional representation - with single transferable vote. Voting is compulsory and secret. First past the post - a plurality system whereby the winner is the candidate with the most number of votes, though not necessarily an absolute majority of votes - was used for the first parliamentary elections held in 1843 for the New South Wales Legislative Council and for most colonial elections during the second half of the nineteenth century. Since then there have been alterations to the various electoral systems in use around the country. Presently, two variants of preferential voting and two variants of proportional representation are used for all Australian parliamentary elections. Preferential voting is a majority system which attempts to ensure that a candidate secures an absolute majority of votes. Proportional representation systems are designed to allocate parliamentary seats to parties in proportion to their overall vote. Under ‘full’ preferential voting each candidate must be given a preference by the voter. First, all the number ‘1’ votes are counted for each candidate. If a candidate receives more than 50 per cent - an absolute majority, 50 per cent plus one - of the formal first preference votes, the candidate is immediately elected. If no candidate has an absolute majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded. These votes are then transferred to the other candidates according to the second preferences shown by voters on the ballot papers. If still no candidate has an absolute majority, again the remaining candidate with the fewest votes is excluded and these votes are transferred. This process will continue until one candidate has more than half the total votes cast and is declared elected. Full preferential voting has been used in federal elections since 1918. Under this system, voters rank candidates in order of preference on ballot papers. With ‘optional’ preferential voting the voter may allocate preferences to as few as one candidate. This system can produce similar outcomes to ‘full’ preferential voting but can also produce results where the winning candidate wins with less than half of the votes. It also clearly lessens the importance of preferences in many seats. 77 Australia has a federal system of government with a national parliament and legislative assemblies and councils - parliaments - in each state and territory, although there is no Legislative Council in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory. This leads to a variety of systems, with a variety of frequency of election calls, and an unequal assignment of seats regardless of the population. How that could be satisfactory, and above all democratic, is beyond belief. But self-willed ignorant people could be made to believe anything, if sufficiently and frequently lied to. A variety of electoral systems is used for these parliaments. The federal House of Representatives is composed of 150 members, elected in designated electoral divisions for 3 years with the preferential voting system and full allocation of preferences. The Senate is elected for 6 years, with staggered re-election every three, with the proportional representation system, suitably amended. The Legislative Assembly of New South Wales is composed of 93 members, elected for 4 years with the preferential voting system and optional allocation of preferences. The Legislative Assembly of South Australia is composed of 47 members, Victoria (88), Western Australia (47) and the Northern Territory (25), all elected for 4 years with the preferential voting system and fully allocation of preferences. The Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory is composed of 17 members, elected for 4 years and the House of Assembly of Tasmania is composed of 25 members, elected for 4 years with the proportional representation system of the Hare-Clark model. The Legislative Council of New South Wales is composed of 42 members, elected for 8 years with the proportional representation system. The Legislative Council of South Australia is composed of 22 members, Victoria (40), Western Australia (34) elected for 4 years with the proportional representation system used for the federal Senate. The Legislative Council of Tasmania is composed of 15 members, elected for 6 years with the preferential voting system and the optional (partial) allocation of preferences. Only a person paid for her/his biased opinion could state that systems such as these do not leave Australians unequal by result, weight of their representation, at the same time in different administration of the state and territories of the country. 78 The results of the 21 August 2010 federal election for the House of Representatives led to a staggering comparison: the Australia Labor Party, with 4,711,363 votes and 37.99 per cent, obtained 72 seats. The ‘Coalition’ (Liberal Party of Australia, 3,777,383 votes, Liberal National Party of Queensland, 1,130,525 votes, National Party of Australia, 419,286 votes, Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory, 38,335 votes and National Party for Western Australia, 43,101 votes) - and thus for a grand total of 5,406,630 votes and 43.66 per cent, obtained 72 seats. The Australian Greens, with 1,458,998 votes and 11.76 per cent, obtained 1 seat. There were 312,496 votes for Independents and 510,876 votes for other groups. Four Independents were elected. After distribution of the forced ‘preferences’ the results for the two parties of the system were: the Australian Labor Party, with 6,216,445 of the votes and 50.12 per cent, obtained 72 seats. The ‘Coalition’, with 6,185,918 votes and 49.88 per cent, obtained 72 seats. It deserves repeating: the Greens, with 1,458,998 votes and 11.76 per cent, obtained one seat. The consequence of this monstrous system is the axiomatic proposition that the ‘Labor’ Party cannot win anything close to a majority without the Greens ‘preferences’ and the Greens cannot win any seats without the ‘Liberals’ ‘preferring’ them in odium of ‘Labor’ ! It makes for an unsavoury alliance: the Greens and ‘Labor’ are deadly enemies compelled to work together. A minority government was possible because of the support of the one Green and three of the Independents. Proportional representation is meant to yield ‘proportional’ election results, whereby parties should win parliamentary seats roughly in proportion to the size of their vote. Ideally, 50 per cent of the votes should win about 50 per cent of the seats. Proportional representation is the clearest way of realising the basic tenet that the proportion of representatives who hold a particular view should be roughly the same as the proportion of the people who hold that view. While some systems which pursue this goal (such as closed party list) can address other proportionality issues (gender, religion, ethnicity), and these advantages are often used to promote such variants, it is not a feature of proportional representation as such to ensure an even split of men vs. women, ethnic or religious representation which resembles the population, or any other goal. 79 As it is used in practice in politics, the only proportionality being respected is a close match between the percentage of votes that groups of candidates obtain in elections in representative democracy, and the percentage of seats they receive - e.g., in legislative assemblies. Thus a more exact term is party-proportional representation, sometimes used by those who wish to highlight systems which emphasise party choice less, candidate or gender choice more, or who wish not to promote systems (such as closed party-list mixed-member proportional) which overly empower the parties, at the expense of voter choice of exactly which individuals go to the legislature as representatives. In contrast those who subordinate gender, ethnic, religious, regional or candidate choice to party choice - usually party members themselves - often use the term full representation. Proportional systems almost always use political parties as the measure of representation - thus in practice these systems are party-proportional. For example, a party which receives 15 per cent of the votes under such a system receives 15 per cent the seats for its candidates. Different methods of achieving proportional representation achieve either greater proportionality or a more determinate outcome. Party-list proportional representation is one approach, in which groupings correspond directly with candidate lists from political parties. The open list form allows the voter to influence the election of individual candidates within a party list. The closed list approach does not. Another variation is the single transferable vote, which does not depend on political parties - and where the "measure of grouping" is entirely left up to the voters. Elections for the Australian Senate use what is referred to as above-the-line voting where candidates for each party are grouped on the ballot, allowing the voter to vote for the group or for a candidate. The parties each list their candidates according to that party's determination of priorities. In closed list systems, voters vote for a list, not a candidate. Each party is allocated seats in proportion to the number of votes it receives, using the party-determined ranking order. In an open list, voters may vote, depending on the model, for one person, or for two, or indicate their order of preference within the list. This system is used in many countries, including Finland - with an open list, Sweden - with an open list, Israel - where the whole country is one closed list constituency, Brazil - with an open list, the Netherlands - with an open list, South Africa - with a closed list, and for elections to the European Parliament in most European Union countries - mostly with an open list. 80 A mixed election system - such as is presently used in New Zealand - combines a proportional system and a single seat district system, attempting to achieve some of the positive features of each. Mixed systems are often helpful in countries with large populations, since they balance local and national concerns. They are used in nations with diverse geographic, social, cultural and economic issues. Such systems, or variations of them, are also used in Bolivia, Germany, Mexico, and for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. It may be instructive to compare the electoral results in two different countries which are regarded as democratically governed: Finland, which has proportional representation on a party list, and New Zealand, which has a mixed member proportional representation system. After the Finnish parliamentary election of 17 April 2011 the 200 seats were divided among the nine successful parties as follows: National Coalition Party, with 599,138 votes and 22.0 per cent, obtained 44 seats. Social Democratic Party of Finland with 561,558 votes and 21 per cent, obtained 42 seats. True Finns, with 560,075 votes and 19.5 per cent, obtained 39 seats. Centre Party, with 463,266 votes and 17.5 per cent, obtained 35 seats. Left Alliance, with 239,039 votes and 7 per cent, obtained 14 seats. Green League, with 213,172 votes and 5 per cent, obtained 10 seats. Swedish People’s Party, with 125,785 votes and 4.5 per cent, obtained 9 seats. Christian Democrats, with 118,453 votes and 3 per cent, obtained 6 seats. The Åland representative, with 8,546 votes and 0.5 per cent was elected to a reserved seat. That is proportionality, and that is democracy. 81 Finns are no different as human beings from any others. Perhaps their better way of governance may reside on their more modern view and the good fortune of not being chained to stultifying ‘tradition’ such as that of the Westminster System. Independent since 1917, with an original Constitution Act enacted in 1919, recently modified with an Act which came into force on 1 March 2000, and further amended on 1 March 2012, the Finns have declared their country a sovereign republic, in which power is vested in the people, who are represented by the Parliament. Thus begins the very first Chapter of that Constitution. And it goes on: “The constitution shall guarantee the inviolability of human dignity and the freedom and rights of the individual and promote justice in society. Finland participates in international co-operation for the protection of peace and human rights and the development of society.” Chapter 2 is devoted to the protection of “Basic rights and liberties”, listed one by one. In its words one could hear Sibelius, confidently declaring in a letter to his friend Axel Carpelan: “ ... I can already make out the mountain that I shall ascend (…) God is opening his doors for a moment, and his orchestra is playing the Fifth Symphony." After the New Zealand parliamentary election of 8 November 2008 the 122 seats were divided among the seven successful parties as follows: National, with 1,053,398 votes and 44.93 per cent, obtained 58 seats. Labour, with 796,880 votes and 33.99 per cent, obtained 43 seats. Green, with 157,613 votes and 6.72 per cent, obtained 9 seats. Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, with 85,496 votes and 3.65 per cent, obtained 5 seats. Māori, with 55.980 votes and 2.39 per cent, obtained 5 seats. Progressive, with 21,241 votes and 0.91 per cent, obtained 1 seat. United Future, with 20,497 votes and 0.87 per cent, obtained 1 seat. That may be democracy, representation it is not. 82 * * * * * Conclusions ? This much is certain: no all purpose definition of Fascism is possible. Mussolini’s was born republican and anti-clerical, hired by land-owners and industrialists, for the repression of workers; soon turned monarchist, and corporatist, it found a good bed to lay down with the Fascist Popes: Pius XI and Pius XII - the latter a Nazi-sympathiser, all comfortable in ritual buffoonery, during 1922-43; it died ‘republican’ and ‘social’ under the wing of the German occupiers, 1943-45. Hitler’s was paid by big business, essentially pagan and anti-Christian, lasted twelve years of planned, unrelenting crime and genocide, 1933-45. Franco’s was National-Catholic, corporatist, luckier than the previous two to the point of becoming acceptable to the ‘western democracies’ - thirty nine years of blessed brutality, 1936-75. There are other examples, of course: Peron’s Argentina, Pinochet’s Chile, and others, too, of more different hue. They all share some common elements: anti-Communism, anti- Bolshevism, anti-Semitism - albeit in various degrees. Sub-tropical - somewhat Friendly Fascism, if that should be the answer to the original question, presents many features common to other Fascisms - and some. Here they are, perhaps not in any specific order, but listed as constitutive essential elements: - 1788, British invasion of Gondwana-New Holland-Australia, untouched by the ‘spirit of 1789’, as well as that of 1776; 140 years to 1928 of planned genocide of the original Black population, during decades of institutional racism; unbridled nationalism - only now and only implicitly still proclaiming the cultural superiority of the British system, from classist law to a putrescent monarchy, yet, still capable of censoring the production of a Royals’ spoof by the publicly-supported Australian Broadcasting Corporation; - a stolid insularity which proclaims Australia = the Southern Hemisphere, with ‘the world’ out there - people oblivious to the political and economic upheaval which is going on beyond its borders; 83 - a continuous rhetoric of freedom, liberty, democracy, and - much later - human rights, clashing with a reality of preferring authority to liberty, hierarchy to equality, and deference to fraternity; - a close alliance of the State and the corporate world and its fraudsters; - the domination by huge foreign business - themselves with a tradition off supporting dictators all over the world; - the support which must be needed to participate in a transnational business-military complex, as a supplier of senseless growth; - irrationality - largely due to ‘imported values’ - in an atmosphere of know-nothing-ism in which conformism and formal adherence to the ‘values’ of the Judeo-Christian tradition is ‘safer’, although it may bring home varying degrees of anti-Semitism, but serves to sustain inequality and authoritarianism, and a sense of resignation which goes with that ‘faith’, superstition, predestination, delusion, and life-gambling; - a parliamentary system in which television performance by highly paid, studiously ‘beautiful’ actors respects the game of a decaying, morally and intellectually corrupt Westminster System; - a central cabal to preside over a new coalition of concentrated oligarchic power and, in effect, unconcerned that pillaging over pillaging may cause shortages, pollution, unemployment, inflation and war; - the growth of militarism as a ‘spirit of life’, early inculcated into future generations through school and family; - duty, honour and patriotism redefined to defend observation of such business-military- corporate-transnational-bellicose ‘values’; - a close alliance of the State, the Church and the corporate world and its fraudsters; 84 - all of the preceding wrapped into a flag with mixes the reference to early tax evaders with the perennial British servitude expressed in the Union Jack’s treble crucifixion - surely, surely the surviving symbols of colonialism; - an automatic aggressive, subservient, militaristic, ‘foreign policy’, which quietly transferred a state of vassalage from ‘the mother country’ to a Great-And-Powerful-Friend’, always subsuming a position of superior ‘biological determinism’ - better racial superiority vis-à- vis the neighbours; - a readiness to intervene whenever the ‘leader of the free world’ calls - if need be with a lie as in Vietnam, or to ‘export democracy’ as in Iraq - but realistically to guarantee the availability of petroleum for the ‘free world’; - a fragmented ‘society’ in which, it may be difficult to tell and persuade an indifferent populace that homelessness, unemployment, a high cost of surviving, and urban congestion, transport, decay, and filth are good for them, although it is not too difficult to have that populace tighten the belt on an austerity programme from which the bottomless wealthy are obviously excluded by the size of their ill-gotten possessions and through recourse to tax minimisation and perks; - an organisation of the economy to serve international and domestic cartels under the illusion of a ‘market economy’, which amounts to nothing more than a corporativist economy; - the proclivity of a populace to ‘quick solutions’ which always end up in reduction of government spending for social services, health, fire protection, employment prospects and - for the few who still care - libraries; - all this of course in strict observance of the values of the Judeo-Christian tradition in a multicultural and secular society without any concern that such mindless ‘communion’ may make no-sense, especially to those many given to an inordinate consumption of alcohol, and an increasing use of drugs and always with a structural passion for gambling; - a militant anti-Communism - now revised as an anti-Muslim attitude - coupled with the fear of an extreme and imminent threat to ‘national security’, which justifies an even more 85 secret police apparatus, practically unlimited by constitutional restrictions or legal requirements - there being no Bill of Rights and a colonial reliance on the common law; - a duopoly in printed media and an oligopoly in other media totally controlled and curtseyed in fear of retribution by a band of Right-wing talking heads, or pens and noisy minions in the parliaments; - an ‘education’ system which indoctrinates to incuriosity, imparted by well-dressed propagandists of ‘market values’, wondrous technology, and the virtues of hard time - under the cloak of acceptable ‘respectability’, while words such as ‘academic’ and ‘intellectual’ become an expression of contempt if not of an attribution of lunacy in a new world where language is debased, SMEssed, and increasingly closer to grunts; - a ‘society’ in which what matters is a sum of trivia + conformity + search-for-quick- enrichment + success and ‘popularity’; - the reliance on a pill-for-everything and technology for every need in peace as in war; - an unquestioning confidence that violence can win in the end - preferably with bombs to kill people but to respect ‘real property’, or action from a distance on an automated battlefield; - an innate disregard for any form of economic and or political planning because that is presented, inculcated, absorbed and regurgitated as ‘Socialism’ at best when not ‘Communism’; - a national obsession for any sport and pomp and circumstance with the corollary passion for marching as substitute for thought: occasionally ‘slow march’, as the English do, and bag- pipes as the Scots do - but nothing original; - the totally incredible but widely believed notion that in Australia there are some very rich, some poor - largely because refractory to work, and a large, overwhelming majority of people who are both ‘middle class’ and blessed by a unique form of class-collaboration; - the rota-like repetition and mindless assertion, out of laziness and indifference, by an uncultured populace of the blessing of a multicultural society - a notion totally devoid of 86 meaning and sense if by that one should accept populist cretinism and Government Philistinism as defining a multi-folkloristic circus. *************************************************************************** * In memory of my friends, Professor Bertram Gross and Justice Lionel Murphy. Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini, formerly an avvocato at the Court of Appeal of Bologna, taught, administered, and advised on, law in four continents, ‘retiring’ in 1993 from Monash University. Author of eight books and about 100 articles and essays for learned periodicals and conferences, his latest work is THE LAST GREAT CAUSE – Volunteers from Australia and Emilia-Romagna in defence of the Spanish Republic, 1936-1939 (Search Foundation, Sydney 2010). Until his ‘final retirement’ in 2012 Dr. Venturini was Senior Associate in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash; he is also an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University, Melbourne. [email protected] -------- Original Message -------- SubjeDame Joan Bakewell,, Download audio,,Broadcast:, Thursday 27 ct: September 2012 10:05PM Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:51:44 +1100 Dame Joan Bakewell Broadcast: Thursday 27 September 2012 10:05PM (view full episode) Image: Joan Bakewell (Matthew Bakewell, Little, Brown Book Group ) Link to larger image.Image: Joan Bakewell (Matthew Bakewell, Little, Brown Book Group ) 87 Joan Bakewell is a broadcaster, a Labor peer, outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly, and at the age of 79, has just written her second novel. Joan was the first woman current affairs interviewer on BBC Television. Phillip talks to her about life and politics. Add comment Email Guests Joan Bakewell Broadcaster, Labor peer, outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly, and now novelist.  DrGideonPolya : 28 Sep 2012 11:53:04pm No doubt the very articulate Dame Joan Bakewell believes in good faith that the BBC is independent of the British Government. However analysis using the BBC's own search engine reveals that the BBC is an unprincipled agent of government and resolutely ignores the horrendous dimensions of Anglo-American atrocities, notably the deaths from violence or war-imposed deprivation that have totalled 4.6 million for Iraq (1990-2012), 2.7 million for Iraq (2003-2012), 5.6 million for Afghanistan (2001- 2012) and 12 million for the post-1990 US Alliance War on Muslims (Google "Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide"). For these and other shocking examples of lying by omission by the BBC and by the similarly holocaust-ignoring and genocide- ignoring ABC simply Google "Censorship by the BBC" and "Censorship by the ABC". While Joan Bakewell, like millions of other decent people around the world, demonstrated against the Iraq War in February 2003, her lover the late Harold Pinter (2005 Nobel Laureate for Literature) went the requisite extra yards and demanded the arraignment of Bush and Blair before the International Criminal Court, declaring in his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (after violent post-invasion deaths had been estimated in 2004 at 100,000 by top US medical epidemiologists): "How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore 88 it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice" (Google "Art, truth and politics"). Twelve million? More than enough, I would have thought, to arraign most US political representatives and most Western MPs - including most of Australia's neoliberal, US lackey, pro-Zionist, pro-war, Lib-Lab, Liberal-Laboral MPs - before the ICC. Reply Alert moderator  DrGideonPolya : 29 Sep 2012 8:54:55am The corporate and Lobbyist perversion of citizen-funded, ostensibly public interest broadcasting in the UK and Australia has not gone unnoticed. Thus outstanding Australian academic Professor George Venturini in his excoriating analysis of the question "Is Australia fascist?" and in analyzing how ostensibly democratic Australia satisfies 14 criteria for being "fascist" (albeit a "Sub-tropical - somewhat Friendly Fascism"), comments on perversion of Australian media : "A duopoly in printed media and an oligopoly in other media totally controlled and curtseyed in fear of retribution by a band of Right-wing talking heads or pens and noisy minions in the parliaments" (Google "Is Australia fascist?"). Professor Venturini quotes at length from Professor Sheldon Wolin (Princeton University) who analyzes a similar democracy to fascism transition in America in his book "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism" (Professor Wolin's thesis is that American Democracy has been perverted into a corporatist neo-fascism that is elaborately dressed up as liberal democracy, with subverted mainstream Media (akin to the BBC and ABC) playing a key role in maintenance of this egregious Big Lie. Thus, for example, Obama's UNGA speech extolled "free speech" a key principle of US "democracy" while FOI- released documents reported in the Melbourne Age this week show that the US 89 military regards Australian journalist hero Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, as an enemy of the state and that any US military personnel having any dealings with him face the death sentence. Small l liberal, progressive Dame Joan Bakewell, appointed, un-elected to the House of Lords by a war criminal Labor Government, argued in the interview for the virtues of the experienced minds of her similarly unelected fellow Lords who can successfully oppose democratic decisions of the House of Commons.  peter c : 07 Oct 2012 4:24:13pm Are these 2 letters examples of the ABC trying to censor you?  Rose : 30 Sep 2012 1:50:34am Australia is a fascist country google "Is Australia Fascist?" Fascist !!! Fascist !!! Faffing, foaming, fanatical, frenzied, fifulent, flatulent, furious, foracious, feverish, florid, fetid, feral, funerary, fiffescent, fafferish, foraging.... Stop Dyslexia and Vote Green!  Mike Spilligan : 03 Oct 2012 4:22:46am Rose: You usually say some good stuff but don't understand what you mean here: Australia is a Fascist country or it isn't or DrGP can't spell? Welcome to Fascist Australia Posted on May 28, 2014 by photographybyodille 90 I was motivated by a comment on one of my comments on Facebook today to revisit this site on the 14 points of fascism. My comments in italics. 1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. Australia isn’t doing too badly on this one. 2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. Australia’s treatment of refugees is a case in point. It’s only ‘them’ now, tomorrow it might be YOUR social group! 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. Again – Australia is using refugees for this purpose, how are numbers of refugees fewer than 1% of the total (when set against our population) a threat? 4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. You only need to look at Abbott’s latest Budget for Australia – tens of billions on superseded jets and the lower sectors (financially) of society being made to pay the cost. 5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender 91 roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy. The Abbott government’s policy on this is well known, along with the PM’s disdain for women. The only woman in government is rather masculinised as well. I guess the poor woman is too afraid to appear feminine! 6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. Australia’s media is largely in the hands of Abbott’s crony and lackey, mr Murdoch. Who is not even an Australian citizen – he gave it up in favour of US citizenship. 7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. Self-evident in the Abbott government’s case. 8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. Chaplains for schools – funded by the government, but no funding for counsellors for or the non-religious. Prayers in Parliament. A former Jesuit priest as PM. Enough with the religious claptrap. 9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. 92 Well, we all know Abbott and company’s stance on this. Nothing is too much for their mates and cronies in mining and mega business. And the rest of us pay, and pay, and pay – and not just financially. 10.Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. Abbott’s government is well down this path, as the Liberal Howard government went before him. Our rights at work will be eroded further and further until there is nothing left. The proposal for lowering of the basic wage is a case in point. 11.Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts. Abbott even includes Science in the one. No Science minister, dreadful cuts to CSIRO, cuts to the ABC and art establishments. His position on this is without doubt. 12.Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. They are going down this path, we’re not too bad at the moment but in the next 3 years it may well become much worse. 13.Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders 93 Do I really need to dignify this with any examples? 14.Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. So far as we know our elections so far are fair and open. But how DO we know? Sub-tropical Fascism (Part 1): Nationalism and patriotism Dr George Venturini 28 October 2012, 8:48am 0 AustraliaAustralian historyDiscriminationHuman rights 0?00 Here we present the first in a jolting six part series by Dr George Venturini; here, he looks at our nationalism, human rights record and rampant militarism. Australian electoral systemDemocracyElbridge Gerryelectoral fraudfascismFinland electoral systemGeorge VenturiniGerrymanderNew Zealand electoral systemparty list system Recent articles by Dr George Venturini (showing 10 of 14 articles | view all articles by this author)  15 November 2013 | The Commonwealth Tournée and the two families  30 April 2013 | Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and refugees (Part 1a)  2 December 2012 | Sub-tropical Fascism (Part 6): Stealing elections  25 November 2012 | Sub-tropical Fascism (Part 5): Corruption and corporate rule  18 November 2012 | Sub-tropical Fascism (Part 4): A State of fear  11 November 2012 | Sub-tropical Fascism (Part 3): Business, Unions and the Arts  4 November 2012 | Sub-tropical Fascism (Part 2): Media insecurity  28 October 2012 | Sub-tropical Fascism (Part 1): Nationalism and patriotism  23 July 2012 | Indigenous recognition - Part 6: Indigenous sovereignty 94  22 July 2012 | Indigenous recognition - Part 5: The Intervention Is the Abbott Government fascist? John Biggs. First pub: June 9, 2014 26.06.15 5:00 am 147 comments Since the last Federal election, people have been shocked at where Australia seems to be heading. So where is Australia heading? Towards fascism? There are straws in the wind. The Collins Dictionary defines fascism thus: n 1 any doctrine, system or practice regarded as authoritarian, militaristic, chauvinistic or extremely right wing. Expanding on this, a fascist government: has a strong leader or small group of leaders with psychopathic tendencies; rules by fiat and slogan; has a culture of lying; defines and maintains an underclass while redistributing wealth and power to an elite; filters information so that the government only receives advice it wants to hear; controls the media; is nationalistic and militaristic; is a poor world neighbour; takes over industry and commerce. Let us see how the Abbott Government stacks up on these criteria. A strong leader or small group of leaders with psychopathic tendencies A fascist leader is obsessed with power and control for its own sake and will do whatever it takes to grab and maintain power. This suggests a strong streak of psychopathy. Psychologist Lyn Bender asks in Independent Australia, 13 May, 2014, “What if Abbott and his cronies are just a bunch of psychopaths?” She makes a startling case that they probably are, mentioning indicators from Abbott, Joe Hockey and Scott Morrison. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/what-if-abbott-and-his-cronies- are-just-a-bunch-of-psychopaths,6472 95 Psychopaths are commonly described as lacking empathy and compassion, as exhibiting no guilt or remorse, given to seeking revenge, compulsive lying, seeing the end as justifying the means and narcissism. Abbott has shown himself lacking in empathy and compassion on several occasions. In October 2007, he accused dying asbestos victim Bernie Banton’s public protests against James Hardy as “a stunt”. During a visit to Afghanistan in February 2011, his comment on being told the details of how an Australian soldier had died was “shit happens.” When a Channel 7 reporter questioned Abbott on this comment, his reaction was utterly bizarre, glaring at the reporter, jerking his head for a full 28 seconds, remaining silent. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wT9XS_TvzQ Laurie Oakes said these and other “flat-footed comments will surely call his leadership of the Liberal Party into question … and he will pay dearly for it.” They haven’t – not yet. Later on talk-back radio, when a grandmother complaining about the budget said she was forced to do telephone sex work to make ends meet, Abbott smirked and gave the radio host a sleazy wink. Rules by fiat and slogan The following is attributed to Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels: “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” And this is exactly how Abbott had conducted his campaign, with mindless slogans such as “stop the boats”, “repeal the carbon tax”, “earn or learn”, repeated ad nauseam. No explanation, no justification. Political debate in a democracy has parties standing on different platforms. Come election time they argue their case with evidence and logic, taking apart their opponents’ policies and arguments accordingly. Certainly candidates hurl insults at each other but they are the exhaust pollution that comes from a working engine. Prior to and during the last Federal election, however, Tony Abbott made the pollution of insults the engine, bringing political debate to an all-time low in Australia: 96 Such slogans pre-empt discussion of how those ends are to be achieved or reflection on possible consequences of achieving them. A culture of lying Fascist governments survive through a culture of lying. Joseph Goebbels again: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” In Independent Australia, 26 April 2014, Alan Austin defines political lying not as broken promises, which happen in all parties, but as “a knowingly false statement by a politician, expressed with the intention to deceive”. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/is-australia-run-by-compulsive- liars-part-two-abbotts-astonishing-30-lies,6398 Here is the lie score of recent political leaders: Kevin Rudd 1, Alexander Downer 7, John Howard 15+, Tony Abbott 30, other recent leaders of all parties, including Julia Gillard, 0. The Federal Liberals are thus by far the most mendacious of all other parties, and Abbott worse than other Liberals. In this interview Kerry O’Brien tries hard to pin Abbott down on lying. It is as telling as Abbott’s 28 seconds of furious nodding silence: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Tc5ljcri6Nk Defines and maintains an underclass while redistributing wealth and power to an elite Fascist governments on gaining power take the country in a radical, new and unpleasant direction. Pre-election Abbott promised no surprises, steady as she goes; post-election we were in for a big surprise. First, Abbott destroyed virtually every positive initiative established by Labor – apart from Labor’s own cruel initiative in sending asylum seekers offshore. Labor’s social justice initiatives – Gonski, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, gambling reforms, 97 superannuation tax relief for low income earners, the NBN and much more. The decks had been cleared for big changes. The Budget gave the new game away. Australia has a Triple-A credit rating, 22 years free of recession, a strong health care system, and one of the lowest debt to GDP ratios in OECD countries. Yet the Abbott Government claimed that in view of Australia’s economic crisis (a lie) a really tough Budget was necessary (another lie) and that all Australians would have to do the heavy lifting (yet another lie). Unemployed 23-year-olds stand to lose 18 per cent of their disposable income, an unemployed sole parent with an eight-year-old child would lose 12 per cent. By contrast, a high-income couple with a combined income of $360,000 a year would lose nothing they might notice. The “heavy lifting” is to be done by those least able to lift. People under 30 would not receive any benefits at all if they lose their job leaving them with nothing to live on. Family Tax Benefit would be restricted to those earning under $100,000 and payment stops when their child reaches six, previously 16. With youth unemployment around 20 percent across the nation and higher in Tasmania, young Tasmanians were told to leave the state to get a job: “earn or learn” or you are cut off the Newstart unemployment benefits for six months. “Learning” means going to university where uncapped fees could in some faculties triple. With higher HECS interest rates, repayments could take decades to clear. What low SES youth would buy into that? That’s assuming they had the ability and the interest in going to university. Students with parents wealthy enough to pay fees will not be saddled with a long term debt, giving them an enormous lifelong advantage. The $7 co-payment and increased pharmaceutical fees in the health budget are the first step in dismantling Medicare and setting up a more privatised health system along US lines. Yet the US spends 17.7% on GDP on health for a far worse and inequitable system than ours, whereas Australia spends 9.5% on health, including Medicare, for a much superior health service: a difference largely due to the fact that if people don’t go to the doctor the later consequences can be expensive. The Budget intervention on health is not about economics or efficiency of service, but a deliberate hit at the poor. The $20 billion medical research fund, impossibly financed by the medical co-payments, is an obvious furphy that won’t do anything for the poor with their present health problems. 98 The Government has gutted Gonski with its egalitarian intent, giving more and more largesse to independent schools. $245 million has been allocated to finance untrained chaplains to provide ideologically tainted support for students while removing professionally trained social workers and psychologists. Abbott is putting future generations at risk by cutting science on all fronts. He abolished a Minister for Science which has been there since 1938; has savagely cut $140 million from the CSIRO; the tertiary sector by 20 per cent but uncapping the fees universities may charge; all the instrumentalities set up by Labor for climate change and renewable energy have been abolished. If climate change is real, and there is very strong empirical evidence that it is, all this is psychopathically irresponsible. Future generations will not thank the Abbott Government. The Budget and the Coalition’s tax policies see that the already rich become richer and the poor poorer. The super payments of those on $35,000 pa or less, once tax free, will be taxed at 15 per cent, but Labor’s plan to tax the richest retirees’ super funds will be abandoned. Family trusts and other tax lurks worked out by tricky tax consultants will not be addressed. Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme as originally proposed was to the enormous benefit of rich double income families while child minding facilities of essential value to poor parents and especially single mothers were cut. But there is meaning in this madness. Fascist governments need an elite and an underclass. That is what the Budget is helping to create. The planned redrafting of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is another tactic in defining an underclass. Currently 18C makes it unlawful for a person to act in a way likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity. The change proposed by Attorney General George Brandis would replace these words with “vilify”. Thus, it would no longer be an offense to offend, insult or humiliate anyone of a different ethnicity. And not to be discriminatory, it would also be okay to offend, insult or humiliate anyone of the same ethnicity – a bogan, perhaps, or a Greenie. 99 Asylum seekers, demonised by Howard as child murderers, have become a target for community hatred, fear, and contempt. There is even a whisper, just a whisper, of a parallel with the demonising of certain minority groups by the Third Reich. Filters information so that the government only receives advice it wants to hear A fascist government does not want to entertain information or to consider possibilities it doesn’t want to hear: “the truth is the greatest enemy of the State”, as Goebbels had said. Abbott has stacked all committees and inquiries he has set up with far right wingers and climate change deniers, the review of the national curriculum, the Royal Commission into pink batts and the National Commission of Audi being recent examples. Clearly, he is not interested in seeking balance and fairness but in obtaining the advice he wants. SBS and especially the ABC are accused of left wing bias, although most ABC panels have representation from left and right. Both are in for heavy cuts and possible merging. Controls the media As part of information filtering, a fascist government controls the media. No dissent allowed. That is not the case in Australia, but perhaps there is little need. News Corp, which backs the government 100 per cent, owns over 140 papers and magazines and is far and away the most widely read. Robert Manne writes in The Monthly (November 2013): “Murdoch’s domination of the metropolitan press has two main consequences for our democracy. First, any government, no matter how worthy or unworthy, is now vulnerable should News Corp decide to target it in the way it targeted the Gillard government more than two years ago. Second, while News Corp retains its present dominance, mainstream debate about certain fundamental ideologically sensitive questions – how to respond adequately to the climate-change crisis; what levels and kinds of taxation are needed to develop the welfare state; the trajectory of foreign policy during the rise of China; Australia’s Middle Eastern policy; and, of course, media reform – is effectively ruled out in advance.” 100 Anthropogenic climate change is rubbished in all News Corp publications. 97 per cent of the columns appearing in the Herald-Sun were sceptical of human-caused global warming, an interesting symmetry to the 97 per cent of scientists who conclude the very opposite. This is irresponsibly dangerous – but perfectly in line with Abbott Government policy. Is nationalistic and militaristic The militarisation of Operation Sovereign Borders was entirely unnecessary, turning what should be a humane rescue operation into a military exercise with tight security clamps on information. Its handling probably reflects Scott Morrison’s militaristic fantasies as much as Abbott’s. A general was appointed in charge of Operation Sovereign Borders, now replaced by Australian Border Force. Is appointing another general as Governor-General of Australia a straw in the same wind? In this time of supposed financial crisis, defence spending is increased to $122.7 billion for the four years to 2018, which amounts to 2 per cent of GDP. Then there is the purchase on 58 F-35 strike fighters for $12 billion. The F-35 is regarded as a lemon in military circles with performance and safety problems. Oddly, it is designed for attack not for defence. Arming for defence makes sense, but who are we going to attack? Is a poor world neighbour Being a good world neighbour means at least signing human rights treaties and adhering to them and to international law. Australia has signed 12 such, including treaties on refugees, torture, rights of children and of people with disabilities. Many of these treaties have been broken with regard to aborigines (as in John Pilger’s 2014 film Utopia) and in past and current asylum seeker policy. Abbott’s treatment of asylum seekers breaks several signed treaties: separating children from parents, keeping legal asylum seekers in ignorance of when their claims will be processed, the foul and dehumanising conditions in the offshore detention centres under conditions that have been damned by the UN and Amnesty International and that amount to torture. Abbott has disbanded the Immigration Health Advisory Group, the only body to give independent advice on the physical and mental health of asylum seekers and to deny them access to legal aid. 101 In order to “stop the boats” the government had to make coming by boat (but not by plane) as nasty as the nastiness from which asylum seekers were fleeing. When boats of hopeful disbelievers in Australia’s nastiness kept coming, Abbott and Scott Morrison resorted to extraordinarily silly expediencies: buying Indonesian fishing boats in Indonesia so that none would be available to come to Australia; towing the people-smuggling boats back into Indonesian waters; packing asylum seekers into lifeboats and sending them back to Indonesia. All violate Indonesian territory and relations with our most important neighbor have been seriously damaged. Stopping the boats also involved Abbott in praising Sri Lanka’s murderous regime, presenting President Mahinda Rajapaksa with two patrol boats in order to help stop any Sri Lankan asylum seekers leaving for Australia. Such tactics have severely damaged Australia’s reputation internationally. The environment sees Abbott at his worst as a world neighbour. Australia is per capita the largest carbon emitting country in the world. We are obliged to do our global bit. Not according to Abbott. He has axed or intends to axe carbon pricing, the Kyoto agreements, the Climate Change Advisory Committee, with $10 billlion cut from renewable energy investment. One such cut is totally irrational: that of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which arranges investment in renewable energy and low emissions projects. The CEFC, chaired by financier Jillian Broadbent, obtains private sector investors to invest in renewable energy projects: some $3 billion since last July. These projects not only decrease carbon emissions but make big money in the long term. Environmentalists want it, the big end of town wants it. Win-win all round you might think. But unfortunately the CEFC was created by the Gillard government. The bill for dismantling it has been passed by the House of Representatives twice, but the current Senate isn’t cooperating. So far. Abbott’s unthinking ruthlessness on achieving his ends has damaged foreign relations with Indonesia, with China, and with East Timor by defrauding Timor Leste of oil rights in favour of Woodside’s interests. His foolish resurrection of Royal titles was done without proper consultation with Buckingham Palace. Even more damaging in the long term has been an $8 billion cut in foreign aid to impoverished countries, lowering foreign aid to .29 per cent of GDP, compared to England’s .7 per cent. Twenty per cent of all cuts in the recent budget has been borne by the poorest countries in world. 102 Abbott’s international image will not be enhanced with this video, played on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight show on Abbott’s first visit to the US as Australian PM. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3IaKVmkXuk Takes over industry and commerce. In fascist countries the state owns industry and the means of production. This is not so in Australia. Here it is rather the other way around: corporate power owns the government. The results for us however are much the same. In Australia, company tax rate is 30 percent but few pay that. The average rate is 22 per cent for companies, but Westfield paid 8 per cent last financial year, and through a loophole, Apple and Google pay virtually no tax at all despite enormous profits made in Australia. Labor tried to fix that but when the Abbott government came to power the Labor initiative was dumped. The mining tax on 2011 rates would now be yielding about $60 billion pa but after a ferocious campaign by both mining corporations and the Liberal Opposition, PM Gillard watered it down so much it yielded nothing in the first year although it will raise around $3.8 billion over four years. Now Finance Minister Matthias Corman wants to abolish it altogether claiming through a convoluted flow-on argument that it would save $13.8 billion. Believe it or not. The diesel fuel rebate cost the government $5.4 billion in 2012-13, which the Australian says is “fair” (10 May, 2014). Abbott’s dismantling of renewable energy projects is at the behest of the mining and fossil fuel industries. Abbott’s Direct Action policy is ineffectual with regard to reducing emissions, but very effective in giving large handouts to the worst polluting industries. The Great Barrier Reef is to be a dumping ground for dredged silt, World Heritage nominations are to be dropped, marine parks around Australia have been scrapped, the “greatly endangered” listing of the Murray-Darling Basin has been removed, the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement is to be ripped up, and all environmental assessments for development projects are to be in the hands of the states, who want the royalties from development whatever the environmental cost, as in Queensland and West Australia. 103 The damage isn’t being done only for the benefit of Australian based corporations. The proposed Trans Pacific Partnership would include an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause into the agreement, which is only available to corporations. Philip Morris tobacco is claiming compensation for loss of revenue, against the Australian Government’s legislation for the plain packaging of cigarettes using an ISDS clause contained in an earlier trade agreement with Hong Kong. The fact that this law was made by a democratically elected Parliament and had been deemed legitimate by the nation’s highest court is irrelevant under the proposed TPP legislation. One tribunal judge reportedly said, with regard to the ISDS clause: It never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all … Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament. (The Guardian, 5 November 2013). The government’s stated policy of “small government”, deregulating, and allowing market forces to prevail means giving open slather to the corporate world, even to international corporations who are not at all interested in the welfare of Australians. So is the Abbott Government fascist? The Abbott Government would no doubt defend its policies and radical change of direction as simply implementing their neoliberal agenda, which they would say they were elected to do. The public’s highly negative reaction to that agenda post-election suggests that they were fooled. Neoliberalism leads to the adoption of most characteristics of fascism, except for the role of government itself. Neoliberalism’s so-called “small government” just hands control and the destinies of citizens to the corporate sector, which as Joel Bakan’s film The Corporation (2003) sees as manifesting all the symptoms of full blown psychopathy. 104 Whether we ordinary people are being bullied by psychopathic fascist governments or by equally psychopathic corporations, it’s not nice to be at the receiving end. Worse, we seem to lack the power to do very much about it. As Richard Cooke points out in “A class of their own” (The Monthly, June, 2014), political accountability is a myth. The values and decisions of political and economic elites are basically unaffected by the needs and values of their constituents. A majority of people want less privatisation, more spending on health care, social welfare for the poor (certainly not for the rich) even if all these mean higher taxes. Neoliberal governments give exactly the opposite to what a majority of people want – and tragically for us they seem to be getting away with it. Neoliberalism is undemocratically grabbing power across much of the Western World; it is a juggernaut that must be stopped. To answer our question: yes, the Abbott Government at least has strong fascist tendencies. That is what hard line neoliberalism does. It is itself a form of neofascism. The good news for us Australians, as John Oliver’s little doco points out, is that Abbott and his mates are being so kack-handed about it they’ll self-destruct, to peals of international laughter. • Attack on Australia’s universal healthcare system must be blocked, says TasCOSS • Guardian: Climate unity dealt blow as Australia and Canada put business first • John Green: Freedom of Speech? HERE I have now discovered another nasty little trick in Abbott’s budget. All community legal centres have been forbidden from taking part in any law reform activities or any kind of policy activities upon threat of their funding being cut. They have been explicitly banned from criticism on the Commonwealth government or any of its agencies. One of the major purposes of community legal centres is to develop a policy to improve the law and make proposals for law reform. It is clear the Abbott government opposes freedom of speech and is determined to stop all voluntary bodies from criticising it if at all possible. THURSDAY June 25, 2015 ... • phill Parsons in Comments: On the criteria put forward in June last year we have to look at the Abbott government’s performance. They struggled right up to May this year and it was 105 only when they rediscovered Nationalism and Militarism in the form of the terror scare that they have returned to appearing like a government. Of course this masks a series of allures in addressing threats to the nation such as a stalling economy; a trade deal the productivity Commission criticizes; global heating and climate instability and their imposts on the economy; failure to foster the growth industries in a transition to a sustainable energy economy; social division with cuts to health,to education and to vilifying certain groups of Australians. Everyone should be able to make up their own mind on the views of Zac Mallah but instead the control over the media is feeding everyone with the idea that he is a terrorist when he was not convicted of same and now works against ISIS promoting the Free Syria movement, a movement the British and the US support. It is strange that Ciobo knew Mallah and was ready for him. You can readily conclude Fascist ... as they meet the criteria. • Mike Bolan in Comments: Nicely researched and well put together John. Interesting that some seem to imagine that lack of gross violations (such as may have occurred in mature fascist governments) indicates that the LNP feds aren’t fascist. It takes them a while to get everything organised so that they can exercise unbridled power (e.g. get rid of Triggs, change laws, empower security agencies, weaken the majority with cuts and austerity programs). It certainly appears that psychopaths tend to create fascist/totalitarian type regimes - it seems that their lack of empathy leads them to such structures. … Writers | John Biggs | Politics | International | National | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Society Show Comments Comments (147) - See more at: http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/is-the-abbott- government-fascist/show_comments#sthash.EHUv2ifD.jebB01pr.dpuf A Wave of Unreason 106 John Biggs* 27.01.14 3:59 am 32 comments “A wave of unreason” is a phrase author Edgar Wallace used in a 1920s Gothic horror story, intriguingly entitled “The Black Abbott”. I use the phrase in another horror story, one about a wave of unreason that is currently sweeping the Western world — and Australia in particular. The way of reason Since the Renaissance, the Western World started thinking in a way that derives from science, using evidence that is publicly available, obtained according to an agreed methodology, and the conclusions drawn therefrom argued logically and transparently. Let’s call this the way of reason, which comprises thinking that is empirically validated and is internally consistent. This sort of thinking underlies any rational public argument: it is a democratic way of operating because all participants have equal rights as long as they keep to the rules. It is a way that should generalize to politics in democratic systems. Policymaking should be transparent and up for challenge as it is in science, except for one thing: the reality or validity test is not quite the same as that in science. Ultimately, it’s about who gets the most votes. And that’s where the trouble starts. Ideally, political policy should be validated, in the sense that any policy is internally consistent and in accord with what we know about how the social, economic and physical worlds work. In practice, however, garnering votes allows all sorts of unreason to cruel the issues: self-interest, dishonesty in presenting issues, collusion between individual politicians and parties, and so on. A truly educated citizenry should be able to sniff those falsifiers out, but we are a long way from that, as shall unfold. The way of faith Prior to the development of the way of reason was the way of faith. We usually associate faith with religious beliefs but it can be faith in any dogma, including political beliefs. Faith is by 107 definition its own validation because it is based on authority and its truths are absolute, not evidence-based and provisional as they are in science. It is a profound and dangerous error to confuse the way of faith with the way of reason. In a speech entitled “One Religion is Enough”, ex-PM John Howard did just that, accusing those urging action on climate change as forming a new religion acting on faith.1 Rather than heed the evidence-based conclusion by 97 per cent of climate scientists that unless action is taken against climate change world temperatures would rise catastrophically, Howard preferred to rely on his “instinct”: “I instinctively feel that some of the claims are exaggerated,” he said. In short, he was asserting that the inner feelings of one individual – himself – carried a higher priority in making public policy than independently validated findings from science or anywhere else. That is authoritarianism of a high order, a breathtaking act of faith in one’s own private data bank, a source that is inaccessible to anyone else. In Western democracy, the separation of religion from politics should be well established. Yet Tony Blair actually ordered his staff on one occasion to pray at the end of a meeting: I said: “You’ll have to get on your knees.” One of them said: “For God’s sake” and I said: “Exactly”.2 George Bush admitted that he conferred with God before making decisions. Did God then suggest that Bush should invade Iraq at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives and untold other damage, including that to his own troops and their families? I don’t know if Tony Blair or John Howard, Christians both, also sought God’s advice when they joined forces with their friend George Bush in this crime against humanity. The fact is that the war was engaged by three men whose religion’s prime exhortation is “love your neighbor” and “peace on earth and goodwill towards men.” Their justification for the war was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the best validated advice was that such weaponry did not exist. This is unreason in full flight, a total disconnect between thought and action. Further, it illustrates the danger of replacing the way of reason with an unquestioning faith in the rightness of what politicians are doing. The rise of neoliberalism 108 Barry Jones writes about Australian politics: The political process has been deformed, parliaments have lost much of their moral authority, the public service has adopted the cult of managerialism and been increasingly politicised, universities have become trading corporations, the media is preoccupied with infotainment, while lobbying and use of consultants ensures that vested interest is more influential than community interest.3 The cause of this deformation of the political process, of higher education, of media, of vested over community interest, is the rise of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism asserts that the only legitimate purpose of the state is to safeguard individual liberty and private property rights, and to safeguard especially commercial liberty with free markets and free trade.4 Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US gave neoliberalism political reality, many Western countries following suit to a greater or lesser extent. How neoliberalism shaped social policy in Australia is clear if we compare the situation before and after Labor’s rule from 1983 to 1996. When Bob Hawke came to power in 1983, the government set the level of interest rates, the Australian dollar and tariffs, and wages were set centrally by the Industrial Relations Commission. When Labor left office in 1996 the government had virtually abolished tariffs, had ceded control over interest rates to an independent Reserve Bank, the value of the dollar and wages to market forces and had privatised the Commonwealth Bank and QANTAS. The Hawke-Keating government reduced corporate taxes from 49 to 33 cents in the dollar, and the personal tax rate from 60 cents to 47 cents. The wages share of GDP fell from around 61.5 per cent of GDP to less than 55 per cent, which amounted to a transfer of $50 billion from workers to the already very rich. These changes, by a Labor government, in fact did more than the Fraser or Howard Liberal governments to increase inequality, decimate union strength and erode Labor’s own support-base in the working class.5 This transformation, the biggest in the Australian economy since World War 2, was achieved by deregulating controls over business and letting market forces settle prices. Inevitably, corporate profits rose more than did wages. The distribution of this new wealth relied not on taxes so much as on the trickle-down effect: rich people buying more things meant more 109 employment for the less privileged. When Keating brought in compulsory superannuation, people’s super funds were locked into the stock market, forcing them to be party to preserving the neoliberal desideratum of annual growth. While the middle class are in real terms wealthier today than they ever were, an underclass of unemployed and under-privileged people are much poorer. By its nature, neoliberalism forces the gap between rich and poor wider and wider. A fair and fully functioning government needs to address three areas of concern for a well- balanced society: social justice, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. Under neoliberalism, whether under a Labor or a Liberal flag, annual economic growth is the main driver of government policy, at the expense of social justice and of environmental concerns. Herein lies a convenient way of defining “left” and “right” in politics. Right wing politics gives major if not sole weight to economic growth, while left wing politics gives proportionately more weight to social justice and to environmental concerns. Prior to the Hawke-Keating reforms, the Labor Party was seen as a party for social justice and thus of the left. Today, ALP policy makes economic growth override social justice, social justice having been almost totally scrapped for example in their latest policies on asylum seekers. The ALP is now a right wing party. The Greens started with environmentalism but now have incorporated social justice, seeing both as more important than unrestrained economic growth, focusing economic growth on renewable resources and associated infrastructure; they are accordingly a left wing party. Ironically, the Greens are accused of being a one-issue party but in this light it is Labor and especially the Liberals who are the one-issue parties. The neoliberal commitment to privatization, adopted by both Labor and Liberal parties, places corporate above community interests. Privately run businesses can be more efficient and less of a drain on the public purse than government run, but frequently the results in terms of public welfare are unacceptable. When the Sydney Water Board was corporatized in 1994, thousands of jobs were lost and household water prices doubled in a few years. Water bills for big business on the other hand dropped by an average of 45% in real terms. Perhaps even worse, monitoring services were reduced, resulting in dangerous increases in giardia and cryptosporidium contamination. It is obvious why. When service functions are privatized priorities change from serving the public to maximizing profits. There are many more 110 examples where privatization has resulted in the accumulation of private wealth to the severe detriment of the public interest. The reasons why governments allow this to happen are pragmatic and ideological. Pragmatically, the sale of a public resource realizes immediate income that is handy in the event of budget difficulties. Another pragmatic reason is even more reprehensible: it is doing a good turn for corporate party donors and for rich mates. The ideological reason is that both Labor and Liberal are committed to neoliberalism as an act of faith, not through validated arguments. Why the public would vote to allow this to happen is an interesting question to which I return later. Unreason in current Australian politics Let us turn to the months before the September 2013 Federal election. The Liberals promised to: • Cut the school student bonus, costing ordinary people $1.8 billion in total. • Set up a paid parental leave scheme giving up to $75,000 pa to already wealthy people. Industry was to pay for this with a 1.5 per cent levy but that would be offset by a 1.5 per cent tax cut. Self-funded retirees would be the ones to foot that bill, an estimated $1.5 billion, because that tax cut meant less tax credits for super funds. Nothing would go to unemployed parents or to those struggling on the poverty line. • Tax the super payments of those on $35,000 pa or less at 15 per cent, costing them $777.50 pa. Those super payments were previously tax free. • Abandon Labor’s plan to tax the richest retirees’ super funds, a total gain of $300 million to the richest Australians. • Commit only $2.8 billion, with another $77 million earmarked for independent schools, to the Gonski education scheme. The Labor and Greens committed $10 billion. • Cut 12,000 jobs in the public service. 111 • Drop tax breaks for small businesses but cut taxes for mining and for corporations paying the carbon tax. • Scrap gambling reforms, to the immense benefit of Woolworths, Federal and the major casinos, and to the immense detriment of lower income gambling addicts. • Cut supplementary allowances for the unemployed on Newstart and youth allowance. Naturally, the wealthiest in the population would vote for such a package, but why would ordinary Australians? Yet 45 per cent of them did. Here are some of the reasons why so many people voted against their own interests: • Disgust at Labor’s evident dysfunction. This is itself an act of unreason. Under the recent Labor governments under especially under Gillard, more legislation was passed than under any other Prime Minister, including: carbon pricing, the Gonski reforms for education, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the National Broadband Network, plain packaging of cigarettes, and the Tasmanian Forestry deal. It was also under Labor that Australia was one of the very few countries that survived the Global Financial Crisis and carried the lowest net debt. • Negative saturation by the press. News Ltd, which owns two thirds of daily and Sunday papers and the only papers in Brisbane and Hobart, was essentially a propaganda machine for the Liberal Party. Little or nothing was said about Labor’s achievements, that Australia was one of the few countries that remained unaffected by the Global Financial Crisis and carried less debt than almost all other Western countries. One of the initiatives that saw us through the GFC, the pink batts scheme, resulted in four deaths on site, an accident rate not at variance with the industrial rate generally. The fault for those deaths surely lay in the hands of the contractors – who were selected by the home owners – hardly with the government. Yet the Liberals, with support from the press, painted that as massive Labor incompetence and are even setting up a Royal Commission to investigate the “mishandling” of that scheme. • Mindless three word slogans such as “stop the boats”, “axe the tax” and the like pre-empted any reasoned discussion of the issues. This strategy was taken from Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels’ rule book: “… confine yourself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”6 112 • Use of “cultural hegemony”, a term coined by Italian Antonio Gramsci to explain why people vote against their own interests.7 We saw plenty of examples in the last election campaign. Relentless sloganeering about “a toxic tax” or “this dysfunctional minority Labor- Green government” (when its legislation record was outstanding) blinded people to the real issues. The massive public resistance in the US to Obamacare, when a majority of Americans cannot afford proper medical care, is another example: whisper the word “socialism” and unreason ejects logic. Abbott’s subsequent stance on climate change is perhaps the worst example of his unreason. Seven years ago climate change, and the need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, was seen by a majority of people and most politicians as a top priority. Effectively to handle that, however, meant moving away from fossil fuels into renewable sources of energy, and in a widely agreed effective weapon against climate change, a price was put on carbon. The mining and fossil fuel industries fought back. With a sympathetic media, they rustled up a few rogue scientists, some with connections with the industry, and loudly demanded that they be given equal time with the 97 per cent of climate scientists who warned that immediate action on climate change was vital. Murdoch’s News Ltd played a scurrilous role in this. 97 per cent of the columns appearing in the Herald-Sun were sceptical of human-caused global warming, an interestingly symmetrical reflection to the 97 per cent of scientists who conclude the very opposite. People became deeply confused, as intended, and when carbon pricing was called “a great big toxic tax” it was game over. Here is unreason on a grand scale, not perhaps on the part of the fossil fuel industry, whose job it is to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible, but certainly on the part of politicians whose charge is to protect the public interest. Amazingly, the public supported this unreason. But it gets worse. On gaining government in September 2013, Abbott’s first priority was to repeal carbon pricing, debasing the issue from one about global climate change to one about electricity bills. He then: • Cut $300 million dollars from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. • Disbanded the Climate Change Advisory Committee. 113 • Removed $10 billion of investment in clean energy, but approved a massive new coal mine in Queensland. • Ruled that Australia would not sign up to any new contributions, taxes or charges at the Warsaw global summit on climate change, rejecting any such measures as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism”. Sub-ministerial officials were sent to the summit instead of a government minister instructed to oppose positive proposals, including setting up a climate change fund for impoverished member states to help them tackle the effects of global warming. Australia in effect sabotaged the project doing much damage to Australia’s international image. • Accused UN’s Christiana Figueres as “talking through her hat” for suggesting that Australia’s recent record wild fires were a function of climate change and that such a link was “complete hogwash”. The Coalition’s token plan of “Direct Action” would pay up to $3.6 billion directly to polluting industries instead of punishing them for polluting. Climate experts say this plan would be less effective and far more expensive than carbon pricing. Abbott’s unreason even applies to science itself. He abolished the long standing portfolio of a Minister for Science, moved to amend the Australian Research Council legislation to ARC funding from $884 million to $716 million in 2016, and cut almost a quarter of scientists, researchers and workers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s premium research body. After promising support for the Gonski funding for public schools and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Abbott is currently changing their thrust and decreasing their funding. To ignore world opinion and strong scientific consensus that urgent action is needed to mitigate climate change is the thinking of a religious zealot. Faith in neoliberal dogmas of untrammelled economic growth and of accruing wealth in the immediate term has meant ignoring the best scientific advice on the viability of the planet itself. Neoliberalism and democracy 114 Early neoliberal theorists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman claimed that free markets and free trade would lead to more individual liberty and well-being, and to a more efficient allocation of resources. The evidence is to the contrary on all counts. Neoliberalism leads to a far greater disparity of wealth both within and between countries. If democratic processes slow down neoliberal reforms, which frequently happens, then neoliberal thinking sidesteps democracy. It is standard corporate practice, with the help of corrupt governments, to take advantage of cheap resources, both human and material, in underdeveloped countries, depriving locals of water, agricultural land, habitat and their way of life simply in order to boost corporate profits offshore. A frightening example of sidestepping democracy is the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP would include an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause into the agreement. This clause is only available to corporations and not to citizens of the nations who are party to the agreement. One tribunal judge reportedly said, with regard to the clause: It never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all … Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament.8 Philip Morris tobacco has lodged just such a claim, claiming compensation for loss of revenue, against the Australian Government’s legislation for the plain packaging of cigarettes using an ISDS clause contained in an earlier trade agreement with Hong Kong. The fact that this law was made by a democratically elected Parliament and had been deemed legitimate by the nation’s highest court is irrelevant under the proposed TPP legislation. The end of neoliberalism The Global Financial Crisis came about because neoliberal economics led the banks to grossly over-lend on unsecured mortgages. Commentators believed at the time that such greed-driven stupidity would spell the collapse of neoliberalism. However those responsible weren’t punished; they were charged with fixing the very problem that they themselves had created. Instead of government taking the pressure off the people whose mortgages were now unmanageable, hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money were used to prop up the 115 failed private banks. It would have been far cheaper, and better for the banks themselves, John Ralston Saul argues, if the government had taken over those mortgages.9 People would then have money to keep the economy going and the banks would have remained sustainable. But instead of questioning the economic theory that had led to the global financial crisis, the solution to the problem was more of the same – to everyone’s detriment except the extremely wealthy few whose greed had created the problem. Post GFC, the situation has become even more unstable. Speculative derivatives, that are very high risk, trade mainly between Wall Street and the City of London at the rate of US$ 4 trillion every day, of which Australia alone trades AUD$ 41 billion a day. These trading decisions are automated and made within microseconds, beyond any human monitoring or control.10 The many inbuilt contradictions in neoliberalism will eventually make the system self- destruct. Reliance on unlimited growth using non-renewable resources is one such contradiction: the law of conservation of matter will see to that. Economically, neoliberalism has generated a financial system that is running out of control.11 The very unfairness of the system, where in the US one per cent of the population owns 40 per cent of the wealth,12 (a similar if less drastic pattern exists in Australia), is an imbalance that cannot last in a system that is remotely democratic. People are becoming highly sceptical of the effects neoliberalism is having on their lives. Grass roots protest groups, such as People’s Global Action, the Occupy Movement, Lock the Gate Alliance, GetUp! and many more, are increasingly making their presence felt, especially through social media. One way of combatting the unreason engendered by faith in neoliberalism is where we came in: the way of reason, using evidence-based argument and discussion. It is surely no coincidence that the Abbott government’s attack on climate science didn’t stop there but extends to dumbing down education by weakening the infrastructure of science, and cutting funding for higher education, research, and public education. The National Curriculum, started in 2008, lists a number of “general capabilities”, such as creative and critical thinking, ethical and intercultural understanding, that are likely to educate the public in critically evaluating policy rationally. It is not surprising therefore that very recently Education Minister Christopher Pyne has described that curriculum, which has 116 only been operational for a year, as having a left-leaning bias, and has appointed two reviewers to ensure the curriculum is “balanced and fair.” One was a Liberal Party staffer and both support compulsory religious education in schools. The way of reason has no place in a neoliberal environment. Nevertheless, neoliberalism generally is on the skids. In the US, the Republican Party and its extreme wing the Tea Party, have all but self-destructed. In Australia, here as in most things, we are lagging behind the US but the current aggressive flailing around by Abbott and his ministers producing ever more affronts to social justice, the environment and the principles of democracy, suggest a sabre-tooth tiger in its death throes. The facts that the Liberals won handsomely in both West Australian and Federal 2013 elections but both are now unusually fast losing public support so soon afterwards, is an indication that the public is at last waking up to a very simple but important fact. The way of faith is not the way to run a country. *John Biggs was born and educated in Hobart. After spending his professional live overseas he returned to Hobart to write fiction. Events on his return however provided him with the material and the anger to write much nonfiction, including letters to the press, to politicians, contributions to blog sites (especially to Tasmanian Times), and in his book Tasmania Over Five Generations, in which he was surprised to discover that the politics of today have much in common with those of colonial Van Diemen’s Land. Refs 1 Given to the Global Warming Policy Foundation on 5 November, 2013. This Foundation is a right wing think tank committed to countering the “extremely damaging and harmful policies” envisaged by governments to mitigate anthropogenic global warming. 2 The Guardian, 25 July, 2012. 3 Quoted by Mike Steketee in review of A Thinking Reed, The Australian, 7 October, 2006. 4 Friedman, Milton (1962): Capitalism and Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Hayek, Friedrich A. (1979): Law, Legislation and Liberty: A new Statement of the Liberal Principles and Political Economy. Volume III: The Political Order of a Free People. London: Routledge. 5 Jean Parker, Solidarity, October 2012. http://www.solidarity.net.au/50/labors-accord-how- 117 hawke-and-keating-began-a-neo-liberal-revolution/ 6 Goebbels wrote: “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” 7 Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks (1929-35). NewYork: Columbia University Press, 1992. 8 George Monbiot, “This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy”, The Guardian, 5 November 2013. 9 John Ralston Saul, “The reinvention of the world - It’s broke: How can we fix it?” The University of Tasmania, 27th August, 2012. 10 P. Willans, “Turning politicians into corporate servants.” Tasmanian Times, 19 November 2013, http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/turning-politicians-into- corporate-servants-/show_comments 11 Op. cit. 12 http://www.utrend.tv/v/9-out-of-10-americans-are-completely-wrong-about-this-mind- blowing-fact/ • Max Atkinson, in Comments: A superb essay - insightful, informative and beautifully written - one of the best short accounts of the current malaise yet to appear, as well as demonstrative proof of its central thesis. Deserves to be read and re-read by anyone looking for an understanding of global and Australian political forces and the ideas driving them, and a sense of the importance of keeping the big issues in focus. Very grateful for this contribution. • Peter Bright has created a pdf for anyone who wishes to download and onpass this superb article: A_Wave_of_Unreason_-_John_Biggs.pdf Writers | John Biggs | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Society Show Comments Comments (32) antimes.com/index.php/article/a-wave-of-unreason#sthash.ZXdMcqKQ.dpuf 118 Dear George, Nice to hear from you. Of course you may quote from any of my published articles as suits your case. I am planning a collection of some of my published essays, including those two, with an Afterword after each bringing them up to date. essays. This is the afterword in the abbot article. I came across later a criierion that is a real test: intention to set up a new social order using force.I can’t say this is true of Abbott. Proposes to establish through violence a new ultra-nationalistic order. Abbott himself is ultra-nationalistic – but to which country, Britain or Australia? – and has effected radical changes soon after gaining government after promising steady as she goes, but hardly he has never at any stage proposed overthrowing the established order to set up a new system. This is an extreme definition of fascism which fits Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany but does not fit Abbott’s Australia. So is the Abbott Government fascist? The Abbott Government would no doubt defend its policies and radical change of direction as simply implementing their neoliberal agenda, which they would say they were elected to do. The public’s highly negative reaction to that agenda post-election suggests that they were fooled. 119 Using the final criterion, while one could not accuse Abbott’s Government of being fascist, but it does share many of the characteristic of fascist governments, just as neoliberalism leads to the adoption of many characteristics of fascism. Neoliberalism’s so-called ‘small government’ just hands control and the destinies of citizens to the corporate sector, which as Joel Bakan’s film The Corporation (2003) sees as manifesting all the symptoms of full blown psychopathy. Whether we ordinary people are being bullied by psychopathic governments or by equally psychopathic corporations, it’s not nice to be at the receiving end. Worse, we seem to lack the power to do very much about it. As Richard Cooke points out, political accountability is a myth.[i] The values and decisions of political and economic elites are basically unaffected by the needs and values of their constituents. A majority of people want less privatisation, more spending on health care, social welfare for the poor (certainly not for the rich) even if all these mean higher taxes, as Holland and Scandinavian countries have cheerfully done, as discussed in Chapter . Neoliberal governments give exactly the opposite to what a majority of people want – and tragically they seem to be getting away with it. It is a juggernaut that must be stopped. The question is: how? The original question was: Is the Abbott Government fascist? Yes-ish but no. Hard line neoliberalism, which is mostly what the Abbott Government was about, certainly has many of the characteristics of fascism. But in the end the most telling characteristic of that government was in the weird ‘captain’s calls’ Abbott made, which were simply bizarre: his parental leave scheme, the knighting of Prince Philip, appointing Bronwyn Bishop as speaker, ordering his ministers to boycott ABC’s Q&A, the list is mind boggling. The good news for us Australians, as John Oliver’s little doco points out, is that Abbott and his mates are being so kack-handed they’ll self-destruct, to peals of international laughter. 120 Afterword When this article first appeared on Tasmanian Times in June 2014, soon after that crassly ill- judged budget, there were an unusually large147 comments. Some agreed that the Abbott government showed all the signs of fascism, others that there were some signs but calling it “fascist” was going too far, others that of course it wasn’t: I wouldn’t be able to publish this article if Australia was really fascist. I have to agree that the final criterion – to bring about a new ultra-nationalistic order – is not what Abbott was about. In retrospect, after that first 2014 Budget attempt, I along with many others were shocked at its blatant unfairness and its mendacity, undoing so many pre-election promises in one swoop. But oddly enough, while we had plenty to complain about during those dysfunctional Abbott years, it is in retrospect that we can see just how really bad that government was. Even if I disagreed with most of what Turnbull has to say, I do not react with the irritation and contempt I felt when Abbott spoke so incoherently: it made me realise that the way Abbott put things elicited contempt and disgust – and if it was on the international stage, with shame as well at how our country was being presented. That contempt was reignited after Abbott was voted out by his party. His behaviour was arguably worse than Rudd’s, who behaved with such childish malice towards Gillard. The ex- boxer behaved in a more chilling manner, lecturing the British conservatives and Europe in general how to manage their refugee problem (simple, make things worse for them than if they had remained in their own country). He made press statements assuming an authority that he had no right to assume, which undermined the Turnbull way of doing things, even if that was not all that much different from Abbott’s policies in the long term. Abbott showed his real colours by showing what a poor loser he was, blaming a hostile Senate when he spoke rarely to the cross-benchers to elicit their support, and media bias for his downfall when most of the press was strongly pro-Abbott (p. ). He, again like Rudd, showing 121 absolutely no self-awareness of where he might have been to blame for his downfall. These are characteristics of psychopathy rather than of fascism. In saying that his ‘flat-footed comments will surely call his leadership of Liberal Party into question so early in Abbott’s prime ministership, Laurie Oakes was to prove absolutely correct. Indeed, my final comment above after seeing John Oliver’s doco of Abbott’s TV moments, was that ‘Abbott and his mates are being so kack-handed they’ll self-destruct, to peals of international laughter.’ What a joy to be so prescient, even with a hint from Oakes. Evan Williams edited Australian Leader Eats Raw Onion Whole (Black Inc., 2015), comprising headlines such as the title, and press quotations, including the plain balmy ‘loggers are the ultimate conservations’. This book explains all: perhaps in his formative years Tony Abbott spent too much time in the boxing ring. He wasn’t a fascist, then, he was just a very naughty boy. The Wave of Unreason Afterword didnlt say very much beyond we seem to be coming to our sense about climate change, but then there are the recent shifts to the right in Norway Denmark and ARgentina. We are still left with problem of defeating the neoliberalism system itself.GetUp! helps but it is really only putting out spot fires. The new collection with afterwords has yet to be published. I'm working on it now. 122 Australia is further from fascism under Tunrbull but then again he is too scared to antagonise his extreme right. Maybe after the next election he'll sow more guts but with Abbott on the backbench there will be trouble. best of luck, John PO Box 1083 SANDY BAY Tas 7006 Ph: 0362252257 [email protected] www.johnbiggs.com.au From: George Venturini [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Thursday, 28 January 2016 8:20 AM To: John Biggs <[email protected]> Subject: request of permission to quote from your works Dear John, I have been wondering for some time whether it is worth returning to the question (because there was a question mark at the end of the title) that I asked about five years ago on whether IS AUSTRALIA FASCIST - Countercurrents.org www.countercurrents.org/venturini100511.pdfPDF file 123 IS AUSTRALIA FASCIST ? By George Venturini 10May,2011 Countercurrents.org The word ‘Fascist’ has become a term of abuse, rarely employed in Australia, quite often ... I have examined the pros and cons of the question, for a complex of reasons, but with great, absolutely great admiration for your two articles: 1) A Wave of Unreason John Biggs* 27.01.14 3:59 am 7 comments ... The way of reason Since the Renaissance, the Western World started thinking in a way that derives from 2) Is the Abbott Government fascist? John Biggs. First pub: June 9, 201426.06.15 5:00 am147 comments - See more at: http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/is-the- abbott-government-fascist/show_comments#sthash.EHUv2ifD.dpuf the first being, in my view a broad introduction to the problem, which is not so much the prime ministership of Abbott, but obviously a vindication of your stupend first contribution to the understanding of this country. The second asked a question that I would like to be able to answer in the affermative. Should I decide to go ahead, I would like to receive from you permission to quote from those two works of yours and the precise text of the first footnote to my review of the subject. It is very important to me that there be absolute recognition, on your terms, of your work. Might you be good enough to take time to consider my request and, if you wish, let me have your opinion on the subject ? Thanking you in advance, whatever your decision might be. Yours sincerely, George. V. G. Venturini, 20 Patons Road, HAZELWOOD NORTH 3840, tel. 03) 5166 1502; fax 03) 5166 1888; e-mail: [email protected] 124 Is fascism creeping into Australia? There are clearly no Fascist regimes in Australia, or any regime with even the slightest of Fascist agendas. We’re a luckier country than that. Broadly speaking, Fascism is: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. This clearly does not exist in Australia. But as this guest post by Paul Cannon disturbingly points out, the ‘rhetoric and behaviour’ of the current federal government (and state governments) could easily have us believe otherwise. In the current federal government there is:- a complete disdain for human rights (treatment of indigenous communities, gay people, people who need welfare support payments, disability pensioners, refugees);- they have manipulated the population by identifying an enemy and scapegoats (“terrorists”, Muslims, refugees);- the military is not supreme but it is being utilised for civilian purposes, therefore it has been elevated (customs and border control, the indigenous intervention); there is sexism (as demonstrated by Abbott, Pyne and Bernadi among others), and to add – Umberto Eco writes that fascism thrives on creating fear over difference;- there is a sense of control by cronyism with media, and there is censorship in regard to the refugees coming by boat;- there is an obsession (pathological) with national security; – religion is not intertwined but members of the government use their religious affiliation as a bargaining point and they use religious rhetoric to push agendas (Bernadi on the traditional family – whatever that was or is);- corporate power is definitely protected, even exclusively with environmental considerations, workers rights, and community needs overlooked;- the corollary is that labour power is suppressed by legislative means; – there is an unmitigated obsession with crime and punishment (this would be more true of State rather than Federal government but it is present in both). Umberto Eco makes the point that the very first appeal of a fascist movement is the appeal against the intruders (find a scapegoat and you control a large portion of the voting public). 125 So is Australia Fascist, well no, not in the historical sense of 1920 or 1933, but there is an alarming trend towards fascist methodology (whether overtly or otherwise) and there is a trend towards corporate control, which is a move away from the rights of groups and individuals, and there is a disregard for our international treaty obligations. The government clearly uses manipulation of the population as to be judged by the government rhetoric that is parroted back on talk back radio by the public often couched in fear ( the refugees would be the clear issue here). There is a disdain for the environment too. And in the proposed education review there is a desire by the education minister to go back in time in terms of how we present contemporary history, labour history, indigenous history, international history (it was Herman Goerring who liked the phrase “when I hear the word culture I reach for my gun”). The fourteen points demonstrate that what is at stake is freedom, language, history, culture, national identity, and human rights. Fascism is an attitude, albeit a political one, but one that pervades the way governments think and behave. With seven of the fourteen points by Britt recognisable in current government action and rhetoric there should be more concern in the community about our identity as a nation and therefore our future as a nation. Umberto Eco puts it well when he says “Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plain clothes.” http://theaimn.com/2014/04/04/the-characteristics-of-fascism-and-how-we-might-note-its- presence-today/  Like this: 126 Related Death-in-custody on Manus i know this is a long post but i believe it is more than necessary whatever the true facts are on mannus island's detention camp riots/attacks over recent days there is one salient truth that stands above all the abbott/morrison secrecy and that is that both have more blood on… In "democratic rights" Is this the end of Al Khateb? High court verdict spells the end for Australian immigration detention as we know it ... Today’s landmark hearing clearly set out the constitutional limits on detaining non-citizens. 127 The federal government will now have to release or process thousands of asylum seekers Joyce Chia - theguardian.com, Thursday 11 September 2014 ‘The… In "Recent" Rally for Refugees - close Manus Island! Rally 5:30pm Friday, February 28, 2014, King George Square * Close Manus Island and Nauru concentration camps! * Bring refugees to Australia and process them in the community! * Dismiss Scott Morrison! * Free the refugees! LAST FRIDAY NIGHT saw 400 people marching through the streets of Brisbane condemning the… In "Refugees" Posted on April 4, 2014 by BushTelegraph Leave a comment This entry was posted in Recent. Bookmark the permalink. 128 05/04/2014 The characteristics of Fascism and how we might note its presence today  Leave a comment So frightening to see these steps or ideological views creeping onto the politics of our country, more frightening to see them creeping into our society via the overly monopolised media content we watch,read and listen to. Many points here are actual now in our country and society. The treatment of asylum seekers and the ignoring of their plight, conditions and even murder. The imprisonment of children, pregnant women. Almost hate promotion via some media against some groups, the turning of every day Australians against the views of other Australians in an aggressive and diversionary way as to create massive divide in society. 129 Now we see also with this latest government a media and political campaign against unionism, the poor, the weak and frail. Increased spending on military and watering down of laws that protect racial groups and individuals of minorities from persecution . We are witnessing a government further into the bed of big business than the last ignoring educational needs of our young and increasing the military like ability of police agencies to take punitive measures against those less educated and those who peacefully protest what they see as injustice against our society as a whole. 130 We see a media that can brush off or ignore with jest a protest of over 120,000 people, (March in March 2014) state and federal governments willing to destroy our environment, our food sources, our water table and environmental treasures for the sake of large mining and fossil fuel companies that give absolutely nothing back to the people who own these resources. Companies that may or may not hold the promise of more power for government or lean meat jobs for thee politicians upon retirement from politics along withe massive donations to their particular parties. Australia we need to wake up and educate those that are blinded by the mass media campaigns designed to numb society into easy rapid mindset change for the benefit of those that wish to rule instead of govern and coordinate our country’s destiny and health. 131 All the signs mentioned in this article are there slowly but surly being drip fed into our social fabric and we need to nip it in the bud fast so as to stop the rotting decay it brings. WAKE UP AUSTRALIA ! Orwell was a fiction writer but these people use his work as a text book and clearly we have Animal Farm happening live in our own backyard right here right now. The Australian Independent Media Network Is fascism creeping into Australia? There are clearly no Fascist regimes in Australia, or any regime with even the slightest of Fascist agendas. We’re a luckier country than that. Broadly speaking, Fascism is: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. This clearly does not exist in Australia. 132 But as this guest post by Paul Cannon disturbingly points out, the ‘rhetoric and behaviour’ of the current federal government (and state governments) could easily have us believe otherwise. Does it matter if democracy shifts to the right? That depends on where you stand politically. But if the shift is extreme then I think it is of grave concern. And what concerns me even more is the tendency to ignore the shift. If you don’t look closely you… View original post 1,712 more words The characteristics of Fascism and how we might note its presence today  April 4, 2014  Written by: The AIM Network  46 Replies  Category: News and Politics  permalink  Tagged under: Abbott Government, Cory Bernardi, fascism, Indigenous Australians, Lawrence Britt, The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism  The AIM Network Is fascism creeping into Australia? 133 There are clearly no Fascist regimes in Australia, or any regime with even the slightest of Fascist agendas. We’re a luckier country than that. Broadly speaking, Fascism is: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. This clearly does not exist in Australia. But as this guest post by Paul Cannon disturbingly points out, the ‘rhetoric and behaviour’ of the current federal government (and state governments) could easily have us believe otherwise. Does it matter if democracy shifts to the right? That depends on where you stand politically. But if the shift is extreme then I think it is of grave concern. And what concerns me even more is the tendency to ignore the shift. If you don’t look closely you never really notice it or generally laugh it off. The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism by the author Lawrence Britt, originally published in Free Inquiry Magazine Vol. 23, No. 2, Spring, 2003 are worth noting in regard to current politics in the west These fourteen points are similar but not the same as those published by the author Umberto Eco in 1995, which are also worth reading. 134 Image from sodahead.com Of course, immediately some of you have retreated, because every time the issue of Fascism comes up it is considered passé or too sensational (you can’t say that!) or irrelevant (don’t be ridiculous that was then) and therefore such a comparison to today should not be used. But I believe we hide our heads in the sand when we ignore the trend, even when it is a niche or even isolated elements showing up. Fascism wasn’t closed off in 1945, indeed it continued in Latin America, Spain and Portugal, and periodically in Italy long after the war. It shows up in mass movements across Europe like the British Defence Force, the National Front, and recently UKIP, to use England as just one example. In defining fascism one should avoid Hollywood movies as signifiers of what Fascism actually is and what it looks like. For Fascism to exist today, it cannot be as it was, we have to look for the essence in what is happening now and to ask – what clothes is it wearing? I am not looking to review Fascism historically, or to dwell on the symptoms of historical Fascism but rather to look at the structure of Fascism and what might be happening now. Fascism is not by definition totalitarian, it can use that form of governing, but it can be present in democracy. So let’s not be fooled by trying to say its nothing like 1920, or 1933 that is merely a smokescreen. 135 Fascism developed in Italy. The term Fascism derives from ‘fasces’ the Roman symbol of collectivism and power (a tied bundle of rods with a protruding axe). The Italians also had a description for the concept of Fascism, Benito Mussolini stated that Fascism was ‘estato corporativo’ which means the corporate state (a view also promoted by Othmar Spann in Austria). Fascism is a pretence or veneer of “socialism” or collectivism controlled by capitalism which is in partnership with government (much the same as National Socialism in Germany). Lawrence Britt studied the National Socialist regime of Germany (Hitler), the Kingdom of Italy (Mussolini), Nationalist or Francoist Spain (Franco), the Military Government Junta of Chile (Pinochet) and other Latin American regimes (Argentina, Paraguay, El Salvador, Brazil), and New Order in Indonesia (Suharto). What Britt found was fourteen defining characteristics as follows: 1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. 2. Disdain for the recognition of human rights: because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerationsof prisoners, etc. 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: the people are rallied into a unifying Patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. 4. Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service is glamourised. 5. Rampant Sexism: the governments of fascist nations tend be almost exclusively male dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution. 136 6. Controlled Mass Media: sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. 7. Obsession with National Security: fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. 8. Religion and Government are Intertwined: governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. 9. Corporate Power is Protected: the industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. 10. Labour Power is Suppressed: because the organising power of labour is the only real threat to a fascist government, labour unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. 11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. 12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment: under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. 13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. 137 14. Fraudulent Elections: sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. In relation to Australia we can immediately rule out 1 (although even here there is the false mantra that refugees are illegal) 11, 13, and 14. And with 4, 6, and 8 there are identifiable elements but not the whole. But the rest 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12, half, are certainly present in the current federal government rhetoric and behaviour. And if you add elements of 4, 6 and 8, there is a strong shift to the right with a sense of an essence of fascism pervading. In the current federal government there is: – a complete disdain for human rights (treatment of indigenous communities, gay people, people who need welfare support payments, disability pensioners, refugees); – they have manipulated the population by identifying an enemy and scapegoats (“terrorists”, Muslims, refugees); – the military is not supreme but it is being utilised for civilian purposes, therefore it has been elevated (customs and border control, the indigenous intervention); there is sexism (as demonstrated by Abbott, Pyne and Bernadi among others), and to add – Umberto Eco writes that fascism thrives on creating fear over difference; – there is a sense of control by cronyism with media, and there is censorship in regard to the refugees coming by boat; – there is an obsession (pathological) with national security; – religion is not intertwined but members of the government use their religious affiliation as a bargaining point and they use religious rhetoric to push agendas (Bernadi on the traditional family – whatever that was or is); – corporate power is definitely protected, even exclusively with environmental considerations, workers rights, and community needs overlooked; – the corollary is that labour power is suppressed by legislative means; – there is an unmitigated obsession with crime and punishment (this would be more true of State rather than Federal government but it is present in both). 138 Umberto Eco makes the point that the very first appeal of a fascist movement is the appeal against the intruders (find a scapegoat and you control a large portion of the voting public). So is Australia Fascist, well no, not in the historical sense of 1920 or 1933, but there is an alarming trend towards fascist methodology (whether overtly or otherwise) and there is a trend towards corporate control, which is a move away from the rights of groups and individuals, and there is a disregard for our international treaty obligations. The government clearly uses manipulation of the population as to be judged by the government rhetoric that is parroted back on talk back radio by the public often couched in fear ( the refugees would be the clear issue here). There is a disdain for the environment too. And in the proposed education review there is a desire by the education minister to go back in time in terms of how we present contemporary history, labour history, indigenous history, international history (it was Herman Goerring who liked the phrase “when I hear the word culture I reach for my gun”). The fourteen points demonstrate that what is at stake is freedom, language, history, culture, national identity, and human rights. Fascism is an attitude, albeit a political one, but one that pervades the way governments think and behave. With seven of the fourteen points by Britt recognisable in current government action and rhetoric there should be more concern in the community about our identity as a nation and therefore our future as a nation. Umberto Eco puts it well when he says “Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plain clothes.” Bibliography: Giorgio Agamben. ‘Homo Sacer Sovereign Power and Bare Life’ California, Stanford, 1998 Giorgio Agamben. ‘State of Exception’ Chicago, Chicago Press, 2005 Hanna Arendt ‘The Origins Of Totalitarianism’ Florida, Harcourt, 1968 Umberto Eco. ‘Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt’ New York Review of Books, 1995, pp. 12 – 15. Roger Griffin. ‘The Nature of Fascism’ Oxon, Routledge, 1993 This article was first published on Paul’s blog Parallax and reproduced with permission 139 PM Tony Abbott; Personally and Politically Rooted in Fascist Catholicism Posted: November 26, 2013 in Catholic Fascism, Tony Abbott Tags: Australian Catholicism, Australian Labor Party, B. A. Santamaria, Bob Santamaria, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Democratic Labor Party, Justin Simonds, Maxine McKew, Santamaria, Tony Abbott 1 2 Votes Abbott and Santamaria’s undemocratic Catholicism by Paul Collins 140 I grew up surrounded by the Democratic Labor Party, the ‘Movement’, Jesuit Father Harold Lalor and the Labor split. My parents distributed how-to-vote cards for the DLP. My uncle edited the Richmond News for the federal member for Yarra, Stan Keon, one of the Labor MPs who defected to the Anti-Communist Labor Party. That same uncle worked full-time for the Movement and was later Victorian country organiser for the right wing Clerks Union. My parents eventually abandoned the DLP because of its extremism, and when Bob Santamaria attacked me in 1986 over my book Mixed Blessings my uncle severed all contact with him. So I don’t look back with nostalgia to either Santamaria or the Movement. I experienced the toxic divisiveness. Apparently unlike Tony Abbott who, at the January 2007 launch of Santamaria’s Selected Letters said, ‘I was lucky to know B. A. Santamaria for the last 22 years of his life, to have attended diligently to his writing and speaking.’ Santamaria, he says ‘left Australian Catholicism more intellectual and less politically tribal’, by which he presumably means there are now Catholics in Coalition as well as Labor ranks. Santamaria’s influence on Abbott’s policies has been much discussed lately by The Australian‘s Paul Kelly, Labor’s Maxine McKew, John Warhurst in Eureka Street, Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald and Robert Manne in The Monthly. Reference has been made to Abbott’s close relationship to Cardinal George Pell, another self-proclaimed disciple of Santamaria. But more important than the influence of particular policies is the ‘type’ of Catholicism Santamaria represented and the subtle, even unconscious influence this might have on Abbott. Essentially Santamaria embraced a form of theological integralism which sees everything in the world as tainted unless it is ‘integrated’ or brought into the orbit of Catholicism. Integralism assumes that the Church has an unchallengeable, complete and accessible body of doctrine that gives guidance in every possible eventuality — social, political, strategic, economic, familial and personal. Integralism defines Catholicism in a particularly narrow, aggressive, ‘boots and all’ way, and argues that Catholic action involves influencing and if possible 141 controlling state policy. Thus Catholics are obliged to do all in their power to ensure that all legislation is in keeping with church doctrine. As Santamaria said in 1948: ‘the most important objective of Christians … [is that they] should be capable of formulating or willing to follow a distinctively Christian policy on every social and public issue.’ But what is a ‘distinctively Christian’ (for ‘Christian’ read ‘Catholic’) policy? For Santamaria this was not a problem. He identified Catholicism with his own vision of faith. He refused to recognise that there were other equally sincere Catholics who had other theological ideas about the relationship of the church to the world and the state, people like Archbishop Justin Simonds, Dr Max Charlesworth, the YCW and the Catholic Worker group, who were influenced by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain and the Belgian Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. Integralism has much in common with Italian Fascism, Franco’s Spain or Salazar’s Portugal. It is also at odds with the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom: ‘Freedom means that all are to be immune from coercion … in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs.’ It is a real threat to democracy and to the freedom that Catholics have to make their own decisions on a whole range of issues, particularly political. Nowadays Santamaria is praised for being an agrarian socialist and anti-capitalist. While this has made him popular with some aging secular leftists, they forget that these movements are romantic, backward-looking, authoritarian and linked with high immigration rates and the mantra ‘populate or perish’ with its racist overtones. So what does this have to do with Abbott? I think it would be worrying if this kind of integralist Catholicism infected contemporary public life. It has no place in a pluralist, democratic state. It is also the manifestation of the kind of Catholicism that was abandoned by serious, mainstream Catholics five decades ago. 142 Abbott is wrong to suggest that it has made Australian Catholicism ‘more intellectual’. It is, in fact, a form of doctrinaire conformism that is the death of thoughtful commitment and is the antithesis of a faith seeking to base itself in reason and understanding. I am not claiming that Abbott consciously follows Santamaria’s integralism. But there is always the danger of osmosis, of absorbing attitudes without realising it. If I were a politician — or an archbishop — I’d want to put considerable distance between myself and the most divisive man in the history of Australian Catholicism. Author and historian Paul Collins is a former specialist editor — religion for the ABC. Integralism From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For the holistic philosophy, see Integral thought and Integral theory (Ken Wilber). It has been suggested that this article be merged with Integral nationalism. (Discuss) Proposed since December 2014. Integralism, or Integral nationalism, is an ideology according to which a nation is an organic unity. Integralism defends social differentiation and hierarchy with co-operation between social classes, transcending conflict between social and economic groups. It advocates trade unionism (or a guild system), corporatism, and organic political representation instead of ideological forms of representation. Integralism claims that the best political institutions for given nations will differ depending on the history, culture and climate of the nation's habitat. Often associated with blood and soil conservatism, it posits the nation or the state or the nation state as an end and a moral good, rather than a means.[1] The term integralism was coined by the French journalist Charles Maurras, whose conception of nationalism was illiberal and anti-internationalist, elevating the interest of the state above that of the individual and above humanity in general.[1] Although it is marked by its being exclusionary and particularistic, and there has been consideration of its historic role as a sort of proto-fascism (in a European context)[1] or para- fascism (in a South American context),[2] this link remains controversial, with some social scientists positing that it combines elements of both the political left and right.[3] 143 Contents [hide]  1 French Integralism  2 Catholic Integralism  3 Portuguese Integralism  4 Brazilian Integralism  5 Integralism and Fascism  6 See also  7 References French Integralism[edit] Integralism is particularly associated with the French Action Française movement founded by Charles Maurras. Catholic Integralism[edit] Catholic Integralism (also called Integrism) is an "anti-pluralist" trend in Catholicism; the Catholic Integralism born in 19th century Spain, France, and Italy was a movement that sought to assert a Catholic underpinning to all social and political action, and to minimize or eliminate any competing ideological actors, such as secular humanism.[4] Catholic Integralism does not support the creation of an autonomous "Catholic" state church, or Erastianism (Gallicanism in French context). Rather it supports subordinating the state to the world-wide Catholicism under the leadership of the Pope. Thus it rejects separation of the Catholic Church from the state and favours Catholicism as the proclaimed religion of the state.[5] Catholic Integralism appeals to the teaching on the subordination of temporal to spiritual power of medieval popes such as Pope Gregory VII and Pope Boniface VIII. But Catholic 144 Integralism in the strict sense came about as a reaction against the political and cultural changes which followed the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. [6] The nineteenth century papacy challenged the growth of liberalism (with its doctrine of popular sovereignty) as well as new scientific and historical methods and theories (which were thought to threaten the special status of the Christian revelation). Pope Pius IX condemned a list of liberal and Enlightenment ideas in his Syllabus of Errors. The term Integralism was applied to a Spanish political party founded about 1890, which based its programme on the "Syllabus". Catholic Integralism reached its "classical" form in the reaction against modernism. After the papal condemnation of modernism in 1907, "integral Catholics", encouraged by Pope Pius X, sought out and exposed any co-religionist whom they suspected of modernism or liberalism. An important integralist organization was the Sodalitium Pianum, known in France as La Sapinière (fir plantation), which was founded in 1909 by Umberto Benigni.[7] Catholic Integralism declined after the Second Vatican Council, due to a lack of support from the Catholic hierarchy. Today Catholic Integralism is supported mainly by traditionalist Catholics such as those associated with the Society of St. Pius X and Tradition, Family and Property. Lest We Forget. “Remembering Abbott’s Past”  April 19, 2014  Written by: John Lord Photo: The AIM Network 145 The Guardian has judged him as ‘’politically incorrect to the point of dementia’’ New Statesman said Abbott represents ‘’politics at its most crass, exploitative and disturbing’’ UK Labour MP Paul Flynn called him ‘’a bigoted airhead’’ The LA Times called itself ‘’scandalised by his prejudices’’ The Sydney Morning Herald said ‘’Tony Abbott had plumbed new lows in government decency’’ Le Monde thinks he is ‘’sexist and vulgar’’ The influential Huffington Post said ‘’he is simply an idiot’’ In the midst of the New South Wales Premier’s resignation a reporter asked a seemingly legitimate question about corruption on the conservative side of politics in that state. The Prime Minister’s reaction was indeed unbefitting of the highest office in the land. His anger at the mere suggestion of corruption from his side of politics was palpable. Lest we forget. But then his ability to feign indignation is only surpassed by that of Christopher Pyne. The fact that the journalist in question was a young lady, who he addressed as Madam, did nothing to dim his reputation for misogyny. You can watch the video here. There are those who say that blogs of the ilk for which I write are simply going through an exercise in character assassination. Not so. I was never a Howard hater like many people. Hating people is repugnant to me. However I do believe that our current Prime Minister is demonstrably unfit for the highest office in the land and therefore open to the most severe examination. There are three reasons. Firstly he is arguably the worst liar to have ever walked the halls of parliament. A liar by his own admission and by evidence. Secondly he is a luddite of the highest order. Anyone who cannot comprehend science and is dismissive of technology 146 belongs in another time and is intellectually unsuited for leadership in the complex word of today. Lest we forget that he appointed Malcolm Turnbull as the then opposition spokesperson to destroy the NBN. Thirdly he is a characterless man of little personal political morality which has been on display throughout his career. He is and always has been an unpopular gutter politician of the worst kind. Lest we forget. It is said that when opposition leaders ascend to the highest office they are judged by their performance in it. That their past misdemeanors are of little relevance. I cannot subscribe to that. Lest we forget. Trying to convert a lifetime of negativity into motivating inspirational leadership has been a bridge to far. To say the least he has been totality uninspiring. In fact I can think of no other person in Australian public life who has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than Tony Abbott. But one should not use the aforementioned language without substantiating one’s claims. So, Lest we forget these indiscretions from his past. None of these events are in chronological order. They are just as they came to mind and are listed randomly in order to build a character profile. 1 When the President of the US visited he broke long standing conventions by politicising his speech as opposition leader. 2 He did the same when the Indonesian president visited. 3 He did the same when the Queen visited. 4 He could not help but play politics with the death of an Australian icon in Margaret Whitlam. 5 He would not allow pairs (another long standing convention) so that the minister for the arts could attend the funeral of painter Margaret Olley. Another Australian icon. Malcolm Turnbull, a personnel friend was also prevented from attending. There have been other instances of not allowing pairs. 147 6 He refused a pair whilst the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on bereavement leave following the death of her father. 7 Then there were the callous and inappropriate remarks he made to Bernie Banton. 8 At university he kicked in a glass panel door when defeated in an election. 9 Referred to a woman Chairperson as “Chairthing” 10 He was accused of assaulting a woman at University, and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself. 11 Another woman accuses him of throwing punches at her. And hitting either side of a wall she was standing against. He says it never happened but others corroborate her story. 12 He threatened to punch the head in of Lindsay Foyle who disagreed with him on a woman’s right to an abortion. 13 In 1978 a young teacher by the name of Peter Woof bought assault charges against Abbott. Abbott had punched him in the face. The charges never went anywhere. Abbott was represented by a legal team of six and the young man could not afford to defend himself. 14 And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match. 15 He established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence. 16 He was ejected from the House of reps once in obscure circumstances. Hansard is unclear why, but it is alleged that he physically threatened Graham Edwards. Edwards lost both his legs in Vietnam. 17 In the year 2000 he was ejected from the House along with six others. Philip Coorey reports that he was headed toward the Labor back benches ready to thump a member who had heckled him. 18 Abused Nicola Roxon after turning up late for a debate. 148 19 Then there was the interview with Mark Riley where he had a brain fade that seemed like it would never end. I thought he was deciding between a right hook and a left cross. Something that I found mentally disturbing and worrying . After all, at the time this was the man who could be our next Prime Minister. 20 Together with Pyne he was seen running from the House of Reps to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted. 21 Being the first opposition leader to be ejected from the house in 26 years because he repeated an accusation of lying after withdrawing it. 22 The infamous “Sell my arse” statement verified by Tony Windsor. Will Windsor ever release the mobile phone transcript? 23 The interview with Kerry O’Brien where he admitted that unless it was in writing he didn’t always tell the truth. 24 And in another O’Brien interview he admitted lying about a meeting with the catholic Cardinal George Pell. 25 During the Republic referendum he told many outrageous untruths. 26 His famous “Climate change is crap” comment and later saying that he was speaking to an audience. This of course elicited the question; “Is that what you always do?” 27 His almost daily visits as opposition leader to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the carbon tax. None of which have come to fruition. His blatant lying often repudiated by the management of the businesses. The most notable being the CEO of BHP and their decision not to proceed with the Olympic Dam mine. Whole towns being closed down. Industries being forced to sack thousands. The end of the coal industry etc. 28 And of course there is the now infamous Leigh Sales interview where beyond any doubt he lied three times and continued to do so the next day. 149 29 Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal tent embassy at Parliament House be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is too kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot. 30 He is quoted as saying in the Parliament that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese had targets on their heads. He later apologised. 31 And of course there is also the lie about asylum seekers being illegal. 32 Added to that is his statement that the PM refused to lay down and die. I think I have exhausted it all but I cannot be sure. Oh wait. Lest we forget. 33 We should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden. 34 And the deliberate lie he told to the Australian Minerals Council that the Chinese intended increasing their emissions by 500 per cent. 35 His “dying of shame” comment. 36 His “lack of experience in raising children” comment. 37 His “make an honest women of herself” comment. 38 His “no doesn’t mean no” comment. Then of course there were these Tonyisms. Similar ones have continued into his Prime Ministership. Lest we forget. 39 ‘Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia’. 150 40 ‘These people aren’t so much seeking asylum, they’re seeking permanent residency. If they were happy with temporary protection visas, then they might be able to argue better that they were asylum seekers’. On rights at work: 41 ‘If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss’. On women: 42 ‘The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience’. 43 ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’. 44 ‘I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’. 45 ‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’. On Julia Gillard: 46 ‘Gillard won’t lie down and die’. On climate change: 47 ‘Climate change is absolute crap’. 48 ‘If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax’. 151 On homosexuality: 49 ‘I’d probably … I feel a bit threatened’ 50 ‘If you’d asked me for advice I would have said to have – adopt a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about all of these things…’. On Indigenous Australia: 51 ‘Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage’. 52 ‘Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that…’. 53 ‘There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done’. On Nicola Roxon: 54 ‘That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you?’ The list is by no means complete and I am sure readers could add many more to it. His ludicrous statement about our navy’s problems with navigation and blatantly lying about turning boats around as opposed to turning them back. Lest we forget. For more Abbottisms go here. His lying and nasty ill-founded comments continue unabated further empathising his unsuitability for the job. Take this for example: When Tony Abbott said this what did you think? “You can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”. 152 “There will be no change to school funding under the government I lead”. Then he said the Coalition will deliver on its education election promises, not on what some people “thought” it was going to do. Now some time back Tony Abbott told us that the best way to understand the truth of what he was saying was to have it in writing. Otherwise what he was saying was just idle chatter for an audience. So now I’m a little confused. You see now he is saying that what I thought he said is only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he says something and I take it to mean one thing he has the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. It was only my interpretation of what he meant mean, did he say what he meant or did he mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant. I know what I thought and I know what I’m thinking now. Lying deceptive bastard. Lest we forget. Another example: When asked in parliament in February whether he stood by his statement of “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS” made the night before the election, Mr Abbott responded: “Of course I stand by all the commitments that this government made prior to the election. If there is one lesson that members opposite should have learnt from the experience of the previous term of parliament it is that you cannot say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards” He was still saying the same thing this week. Convicted of lying by his own words I would have thought. And not a word of protest from the main stream media. 153 Something truly remarkable is happening in Australian politics. The Australian Prime Minister who was as opposition leader a person devoid of character, is now attempting a personality conversion to rival nothing hitherto seen in an Australian leader. During his tenure as opposition leader he used colorful aggressive language. He was bullish in his attitude to others, particularly to the female Prime Minister of the day. His negativity was legendary. He held in contempt procedures of the House of Representatives and the conventions it upheld. Lest we forget. Now a few months into his term of office we are expected to believe that he has transformed into a mild mannered, cultured man of some distinction. Walking the global stage as a gentleman with noble intent. We are expected to put to one side the old Tony Abbott and embrace the new one with unbridled fondness. Lest we forget. Well I am all for self-improvement. I like to think I have practiced it all my life. But in this instance I will not be conned with this nonsense. David Marr’s quarterly essay “Political Animal” gives an engrossing even gripping insight into the persona of the leader of the opposition leader Tony Abbott.I made many observations as I read it and I cannot of course comment on everything. I must say though (given Tony Abbot’s statement that he finds gay’s intimidating) that I was a little bemused at how Marr even got to interview him. They apparently spent some time together which must have been excruciatingly uncomfortable for the then opposition leader. And given that Mr Abbott only allowed him to use just one quote I should think he probably wasted his time. Another thing that took my attention was the influence of Catholicism in his private and political decision making. He in apparently finds it difficult to make decisions without referral to his faith. Lest we forget. Regardless of what political persuasion you are I believe we like to see character in our leaders. Now how do we describe character? “Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or 154 submerged by the theatrics of a presidential campaign, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.” When looked at in isolation the lies and indiscretions of Tony Abbott, his problems with women and even his negativity could perhaps all be written off as just Tony being Tony. Or that’s just politics. However my focus here is on character and whether Mr Abbott has enough of it to be the leader of our nation. My contention is that because we are looking at a litany of instances of lying, deception and bad behavior over a long period of time he simply doesn’t have the essence of character which is one of the main ingredients in the recipe of leadership. On the evidence thus far the Prime Minister falls a long way short. Lest we forget. It is however, in the area of truth that shows the worst aspects of his character. The future of this country is of vital importance. Given his performance of late he would do well to consider these words. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. It’s easy to understand what Abbott says because he only speaks in slogans. The difficulty is knowing what he means. “As he spoke I expected the very essence of truth but his words came from the beginning of a smirk, or was it just a sneer of deception” John Lord If politics is fundamentally about ideas it is also about leadership. In this piece I have deliberately steered clear of policy argument in order to concentrate on character. On numerous occasions I have invited people on Facebook to list five attributes of Tony Abbott that warranted his election as Prime Minister of Australia. I have never received a reply. And when you look at the aforementioned list, is it any wonder. He is simply bereft of any character at all. He has been described as the mad monk and many other things but essentially he is a repugnant gutter politician of the worst kind. Lest we forget. “It is better to be comforted with the truth than be controlled by lies” 155 John Lord Authors note. The phrase ‘’lest we forget’’ is generally used as a mark of respect for those who have died in war. It does however have other meanings. One of which is a warning against lying and the perils of self-pride, exaggeration and bad leadership that eventually leads to an inevitable decline in power. It is in that context that I use it. Abbott's Australia: country of lost opportunity By Dino Cesta Posted Tuesday, 9 December 2014 In a scathing, yet apposite assessment of Australia in the 1960s, researcher, author, and social critic Donald Horne famously penned in his iconic book 'The Lucky Country',"Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck." In 1964, Horne contended that Australia was entwined to its colonial past, unable to stand and think on its own two feet, and its leaders lacking a distinctive cultural blueprint for a newer, mature, prosperous and more independent Australian society. Horne's frustration and condemnation was in part based on the premise that Australia predominantly leveraged the economic, social and technological innovations of other nations, however lacked the ingenuity, ambition, venture, and passion to do the same. Essentially, Australia was fortuitous, or 'lucky', rather than 'clever', in its development as a nation. Particularly under the Menzies Prime Ministership, Australia metaphorically fell asleep, lacking the inspiration and vision to catapult Australia to a more independent and self- reliant nation economically, politically, socially and culturally. Australia needed to be more 'clever' in its thinking, by investing in its future instead of being complacent and squandering the unfulfilled potential of its people. From an economic perspective, it was then and still is now, not enough to rely solely on Australia's abundance in natural resources, living off the 'sheep's back', or held ransom to the mining 'boom and bust' economic cycles, for its ongoing prosperity. 156 Fast-forward to 2014, half-a-century on since Horne's insights. There is a sense of a cultural echo of yesteryear under Prime Minister Abbott. Under Abbott, Australia is at risk of becoming the country of lost opportunity economically, socially, and culturally. Abbott appears more interested in reintroducing knighthoods than re-engineering Australia for the twenty first century to ensure future prosperity for all, as distinct to a select few, Australians. Austerity policy measures will not grow an economy, only suppress it. This is clearly demonstrated in Europe where its initial obsession with pure austerity courses of actions post Global Financial Crisis further crippled its growth prospects, its economy, and aggravating social cohesion and dislocation. Short and long-term innovative growth oriented policy measures must be implemented in conjunction with measures, which cut real waste, and inefficiencies across our economy. Today, Australia's over-reliance as a resource-based economy is for all to see. The Government's current budgetary fiscal position is decimated due to the significant drop in global commodity prices. To prosper, Australia must broaden its revenue capacity applicable to twenty-first century needs, not just twentieth century 'old economy' needs. Particularly with an ever-creeping ageing population, it is an imperative that Australia become more creative, productive and smarter in not only the manufacturing, resources, energy and agricultural sectors, but also in other sectors, including in health, financial services, education, tourism, services, and importantly the environment. Australia must increasingly diversify what it exports to the world. Fortunately on some of these issues, Australia is slowly heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, on the issue of climate change, Australia has dropped the ball. It is irrefutable that the planet's climate and weather patterns are changing. Regardless of what is contributing to, and because of this shift, Australia must play a pivotal role and be more dynamic in transforming our and the global economy. Otherwise, we risk becoming a third world economy. 157 The Abbott Government must foster greater research and business opportunities and support significantly increased investment in Australia's 'renewable energy' economy. Its present policy discourages investment in renewable energy, disadvantaging local organisations actively searching for innovative outcomes for a cleaner, healthier economy. This is in contrast to other nations, including China and the United States, where investment in renewables is accelerating. The significant risk, which is already being played out, is researchers and investors are going offshore to pursue the business opportunity of the century. The Abbott Government must be more proactive in transitioning from a predominantly 'fossil fuel' economy to a diverse one. The employment, economic growth, and health benefits associated with encouraging and investing in renewable clean energy is enormous. Fears that combating climate change will threaten jobs and economic growth is shortsighted and misguided. Nations presently reliant on coal, iron-ore, gas, and oil will in time transition to a low carbon economy. This include our largest trading partners, and nations, such as China with large populations and growth rates, who will increasingly focus on cleaner wind, solar and other renewables to combat ever increasing pollution resulting from increasing population. Australian opponents to renewable energy and right wing ideologue climate change sceptics can deny all they want. Coal, iron-ore will not forever remain 'King'. The Abbott Government can continue to look after the self-interests of those in the non-renewable energy industry, but at what cost to the Australian economy and its citizens in the long run? As a nation that is the highest emitter of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis compared to other advanced industrialised economies, Australia must be seen to take action on climate change. Based on Abbott's current track record, don't hold your breath! Only recently, Australia has refused to contribute to the global $US10 billion Green Climate Fund, established to support poorer nations impacted by climate change and reducing carbon emissions. In time, the return of investment on cleaner renewable energy will outweigh that of dirtier and unhealthy fossil fuel energy. What will then become of Australia's non-renewable energy industry within a generation? The Australian landscape will resemble a graveyard strewn with 158 'body bags' of unfulfilled and unprofitable mining ventures because the world has moved on to alternative, cleaner sources of energy to fuel its economy. Prime Minister Abbott and the Government may believe that by abolishing a price signal in the carbon tax, it is in the national interest, and which benefits Australians' hip pockets. In the short term, these benefits are illusionary. In the long term, it will be catastrophic to the Australian economy and future generation of Australians. While more nations are placing a price on carbon, Abbott is steering Australia toward the cliff's edge. In time, Abbott's increasingly isolationist view on climate change will be shown to be on the wrong side of history. Climate Change is the elephant in the room, which Abbott refuses to acknowledge. Abbott is cold on climate change, but the political climate is heating up internationally, and again domestically, on the key issue of the century. While it's not the 1960's, the concern is, as Mark Twain observed, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." By rejecting the overwhelming science, and not embracing the resultant opportunities from climate change, Australia will certainly not be 'The Lucky Country', nor 'The Clever Country', but 'The Country of Lost Opportunity'. Dino Cesta is a freelance communicator of thoughts, opinions and ideas on politics, economic and social issues and public policy. Cofounder of the non-profit organisation Hand in Hand Arthouse, and the Newcastle Italian Film Festival, Dino graduated with a Bachelor of Economics and Master of Politics and Public Policy. You can follow Dino on View from the Obelisk or Twitter on @dinoc888 © The National Forum and contributors 1999-2016. All rights reserved. Are you a Nazi?  December 11, 2014  Written by: Kaye Lee  83 Replies 159  Category: News and Politics  permalink  Kaye Lee In February I published an article called But then it was too late which was an excerpt from the Milton Mayer book They Thought They Were Free. It is a chilling account of how the Nazis were able to rise to power, how they gradually habituated the public into accepting their increasingly depraved agenda. But that was a long time ago and it couldn’t happen here, right? In the land of the brave and the home of the free, the American Nazi Party still exists as “a Political-Educational Association, dedicated to the 14 WORDS – We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.” 160 They have a party platform and website that outlines their goals, or should I say demands, exhorting patriotic WHITE Americans to rise up. “Each of us must decide just how far we will let the situation in America deteriorate, before we decide to take action to correct it. If you have had enough, and are willing to join the ranks of your ancestors who forged this land from a wilderness teeming with savages, and to keep it from returning to that state, we urge you to become involved. For your children’s sake, if not for your own. For White WORKER Power!” Randa Morris has designed a ten question quiz to help modern day conservatives determine just how much of the American Nazi Party platform they agree with. Whilst written for an American audience, the questions apply equally well to an Australian context. Take the ‘Are you a Nazi?’ quiz. 1. Do you oppose immigration and believe that America is for “Americans only? 2. Do you oppose feminism, and do you believe that motherhood should be the prime role of women, in order to “strengthen the family unit?” 3. Do you support the establishment of a new system of education, which would oversee the “moral development” of children? 4. Do you believe that the economy and the government should be debt-free? 5. Do you believe that America should be “energy sufficient,” and that we should exploit natural resources, such as land and water, in order to achieve that goal? (Bonus question: Is it a good idea to put ‘fossil fuel-producing corporations,’ like fracking wells, oil rigs and garbage incinerators in economically depressed regions of the country, to stimulate economic growth and create jobs for minorities?) 6. Do you support the right of citizens to keep and bear arms? (No, Nazi’s do not support taking guns away, contrary to right wing bullshit.) 7. Do you want to do away with the separation of church and state? 161 8. Do you want to see the US government get involved in the “spiritual upbringing” of children? 9. Are you a true supporter of “traditional American values?” (The Nazi’s call it ‘traditional Aryan values,’ but we know what you mean.) 10. Do you believe that minorities and immigrants are a threat to the traditional United States? Bonus points if you: 1. Oppose labor unions and want to see them outlawed. 2. Agree that there is a “war on white people” and that ‘reverse-racism’ is a real problem in the United States. 3. Believe that gays present a real threat to “traditional American values” and the “traditional American family.” 4. Hate “Communists” and are willing to apply that label to everyone you disagree with politically. Remind you of anyone? Randa explains her purpose is not to condemn or to convict, but to expose how the Nazi agenda has gone mainstream and to (hopefully) help some of the people who have bought into this agenda, to realize what they’ve been sold. The use of religion by the right wing in the US today serves a specific purpose. Followers of the right wing confuse their religious beliefs with their political ideas, and become unable to separate the two. In the same way it did in Nazi Germany, the tactic is used to create religiously-fervent extremists, people who are unable to separate their belief in God from their devotion to a political party or regime. 162 What Hitler understood is that a man can be persuaded to do anything, as long as he believes that what he is doing is “God’s will.” Regardless of what perspective you take on history, most people understand that Nazis were and are evil. Most people are aware that, in the past, they used mass manipulation to promote their agenda and to get the people to go along with it. If the same tactics were being used in Australia today, would people be able to see what was happening? Could people go from being kind-hearted, God-fearing citizens to Nazi’s without realizing that their beliefs were being subtly manipulated through a mixing of religion and nationalism? “the political opinion of the masses represents nothing but the final result of an incredibly tenacious and thorough manipulation of their mind and soul.” -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf) On your bike, Tony Abbott In 2010, Manne hoped Abbott would exit early By Robert Manne April 2010 163 May 2010Medium length read Topics Politics Federal politics ShareEmailFacebookTweetGoogle+LinkedIn http://mnth.ly ADVERTISEMENT FROM THE FRONT PAGE Names have been changedManaging child sex offenders in the communityDiabolicalWhy have we failed to address climate change?One of the great Australian albumsThe Triffids’ ‘Born Sandy Devotional’ 30 years onA very, very bad wordSometimes you need to swear on the radioWhen the doctor needs a doctorMedical professionals can 164 be hypochondriacs too Cultural hazardsHow do emergency services respond to the LGBTI community? This is not ideology How can Australia keep its Paris climate promises?It’s timeThe case for marriage equalityHow has it come to this?Our asylum-seeker system has been taken over by a rigid, irrational mindset Since the defeat of the Howard Government, the Liberal Party has tried three leaders. The first, Brendan Nelson, had no identifiable strategic vision for the future. His successor, Malcolm Turnbull, did. Turnbull sought to return the Liberal Party to the progressivist non-Labor tradition that began with Alfred Deakin and ended with Malcolm Fraser. He was not tempted by the kind of populist conservatism that had flourished in the party since Howard had gazumped One Nation over border control and won the 2001 election. Turnbull regarded the apology to the Stolen Generations as simple decency. He was “relaxed and comfortable” about the consequences of the cultural revolution of the 1960s – feminism, gay liberation, multiculturalism – which the right wing of his party regarded as the politically correct excesses of self-hating, anti-Western elites. Turnbull sought to unsettle the government over economics, especially after Rudd’s assault on ideological neo-liberalism, by characterising the prime minister as a Whitlamite big-spender and a born-again Keynesian. More deeply, however, he sought to distance the Opposition from the do- nothing climate-change denialism that had dominated the Liberal Party under Howard, at least until its eleventh hour. For Turnbull, no less than for Rudd, climate change was the greatest challenge of the age. Rudd under- stood that without the support of the Opposition he could not secure the passage of his emissions trading scheme. Turnbull believed that if the Liberal Party opposed the scheme the Coalition would be crushed at the forthcoming election and, even more importantly, no longer worthy of 165 respect. In late November last year, these different political judgements provided the basis for an admittedly extremely timorous deal. The right wing of the Liberal Party was never reconciled either in general to Turnbull’s brand of liberal progressivism, which the arch-reactionary John Stone had labelled the philosophy of Wentworth Man, or in particular to his support for action over climate change. Yet if Malcolm Turnbull had been a cannier politician he might, none-the-less, have prevailed. By mis- characterising the balance of the numbers in a heated party-room debate, Turnbull triggered a rebellion led by Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott. In the face of this rebellion, Turnbull staked his leadership on his refusal to accept the compromise offered by his enemies – to delay the passage of the emissions trading legislation until after Copenhagen – and openly described the Minchinites as the right-wing wreckers of the Liberal Party. If Joe Hockey had accepted the Minchin compromise he would today be leader of the Liberal Party. Unfortunately, he was either too principled or too foolish to agree. By advocating a nonsensical conscience vote on the most important political issue of the day, Hockey was the first candidate to be eliminated in a three-cornered leadership contest. The contenders now represented the most progressive and the most conservative interpretations of contemporary Liberalism – Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. Abbott became leader of the Liberal Party by a single vote. He had finally to be taken seriously. Tony Abbott has told us he became genuinely interested in politics in 1976, at the age of 18, when he accepted an invitation to attend a conference of the National Civic Council, the Catholic political organisation run by BA Santamaria. The Santamaria movement that Abbott joined was characterised by belief in Catholic rural settlements and social justice for the ordinary working class; by militant domestic anti-communism and unflinching military support for the US in the Cold War; by a staunchly conservative version of Catholicism, which had responded with alarm to 166 the liberalising tendencies that had blown up since Vatican II; by a profound faith in the sanctity of family and traditional male and female roles; by an equally profound hostility to the new social movements – feminism, gay liberationism, environmentalism – and to the forces of  “nihilism” and “relativism” that had supposedly taken root among the intellectual class. In the early days the Santamaria movement focused on the daily struggle against the communist leadership of the trade unions. By the time Abbott joined, the focus had shifted to the struggle against the left-wing university students thought to be providing the new social basis for violent revolution. Santamaria now believed that a new Dark Age was approaching, like at the time of the fall of Rome. “We are living,” he told a National Civic Council audience in 1978, “in the moment of the waning of Western Christian civilisation.” Despite the apparent hopelessness of the task, the role of young Catholics like Tony Abbott was to devote their lives to the grand battle to save civilisation and turn back the cultural tide. It would be ridiculous to claim that Abbott has not qualified, or even abandoned, aspects of the apocalyptic and exhilarating Santamaria world view he breathed in as a young man. But it is entirely accurate to insist that he has been fundamentally influenced from then until now by the first political thinker who got to him. On one occasion, Abbott described Santamaria as “the greatest living Australian”. On another, he described him as “the ultimate true believer”. In 2007 he confessed that he had spent his life under Santamaria’s “spell”. Even though there is evidence that Santamaria despised John Howard, it remains very psychologically important for Abbott that one of the last visitors to the Santamaria deathbed was the prime minister Abbott had by then come to idolise. Throughout his life, Abbott has wrestled with the Santamaria legacy. He has only moved out from Santamaria’s shadow slowly and even then incompletely. When he drops his guard and informs an inter-viewer that he feels threatened by homosexuality or that he would advise his daughters 167 to treasure their virginity, it is the continuing influence of Santamaria that we see. No one, in my opinion, can understand Abbott if they do not understand this. After Abbott’s election as Liberal Party leader, an interesting debate began about the role his Catholic faith was likely to play if he ever became prime minister. According to the left-wing version, as seen for example on Liz Jackson’s Four Corners, Abbott is an unreconstructed and old-fashioned Catholic, who does not believe in the separation of Church and State, who has already used whatever opportunity has presented itself to impose his religious views, and who is almost certain to continue to do so in the future. According to the viewpoint of commentators more sympathetic to Abbott’s Catholicism, such as Paul Kelly, this is a straightforward case of left-wing double standards. Abbott is clear about the need to separate Church and State. He is no more likely to impose his personal religious views than his no less religious rival, Kevin Rudd, who launched his bid for the leadership of the Labor Party in this magazine with an article called ‘Faith in Politics’. In my view, while there is some truth on both sides of this debate, the Left’s interpretation is more accurate. As a young man, Tony Abbott was influenced by the most radical version of the relationship between Church and State, and of the conception of the role Catholicism – not merely Christianity – ought to play in shaping politics that this country has ever witnessed. Shortly after defeating the communists in the trade unions, Santamaria wrote to Archbishop Mannix. He told Mannix that his followers would soon “be able to implement a Christian social program in both the state and federal spheres. This is the first time that such a work has become possible in Australia and, as far as I can see, in the Anglo-Saxon world since the advent of Protestantism.” With Santamaria and his followers, the desire to redeem the realm of politics with a Catholic social program was never entirely absent. 168 Abbott is neither a deep nor a systematic thinker. But there is no question that has preoccupied him more than the relationship of religion and politics and what he calls “the ethical responsibilities of the Christian politician”. He is troubled both by the rise of “secular humanism” in the West and the “secular humanist takeover of the Labor Party”. He clearly believes it a good thing that Christians do enter politics. But what, on entry, should they do? On the one hand, Abbott argues, it is wrong to deny the separation of Church and State or for religious believers to seek to impose their religious views on their fellow citizens. On the other, he argues, it is wrong and unrealistic to demand of the Christians who enter politics that they should abandon their core beliefs. Luckily, for Abbott, this apparent dilemma can be readily resolved. In every case, as it happens, the moral teachings of the Catholic Church coincide perfectly with the findings of the “natural law”. So long as Catholics in politics argue for their positions by reference not to dogma but to this natural law, they are free to try to advance their religion’s moral code. Like many contemporary Christians, Abbott is preoccupied by the question of abortion. Although he claims he does not wish to cause women unnecessary pain, this has not prevented him from claiming, on one occasion, that abortion is a “black-and-white” moral issue and, on another, that 100,000 abortion deaths have created for Australia “a legacy of unutterable shame”. As a realist, Abbott recognises that in the short-term this legacy cannot be reversed. But he remains proud of the role he has played in calling the ethics of abortion into public question and of “nudging” the nation in a new direction. Abbott is also proud that on many occasions the Howard government was able to advance what he sees as an explicitly Christian social program. “This government’s decisions to overturn the Northern Territory’s euthanasia law, ban gay marriage, stop the ACT heroin trial, provide additional financial support for one-income families and try to reduce abortion numbers through pregnancy support counselling, show the tide of secular humanism was not as irreversible as [Santamaria] thought.” With eight conservative 169 Catholics in the Howard government, Abbott frequently joked that Santamaria’s party, the Democratic Labor Party, was alive and well. Abbott believes there are two versions of Christianity in politics. Rudd’s version, “the social gospel”, assimilates Christianity to a left-wing program of support for refugees, Indigenous reconciliation, workers’ rights and serious action over climate change. His own, advancing a conservative religiously inspired ethical agenda and social program, is the one that he believes genuine Christians should embrace. From the point of view of the left-wing secular humanist, the danger with Rudd is that he will turn out to be a hypocrite and with Abbott that he will prove true to his word. After the Howard government lost office, Abbott tells us, he fell into a funk. It was only by writing his political manifesto, Battlelines, that his appetite for the life of politics returned. John Howard is without doubt the hero of Battlelines. Abbott argues that Howard was one of Australia’s greatest prime ministers; that he was a brilliant manager of colleagues with “the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon”; that he was a courageous “border breaker” in policy areas like gun control, the GST, the war on the wharves, East Timor, border protection and the Northern Territory intervention; that he had impressed the electorate deeply because “he believed in something”; that the something he believed in was the fundamental goodness of Australia; and that his political genius could be summarised in a single phrase – “inspired pragmatism”. What, then, finally went wrong? The only mistake Abbott believes Howard made was WorkChoices, where he lost faith with his “battlers”. Even that, however, was more a political than a policy mistake. In reality Howard lost power simply because the people decided that it was time for change. 170 Beyond this hallelujah chorus in praise of his former leader, if truth be told, Battlelines is a hodgepodge of half-baked thoughts and determinedly unresolved contradictions. Abbott believes that the Liberal Party has been formed from the marriage between liberalism and conservatism. Yet it is only the conservative partner of the marriage that truly interests him. Apart from conventional piety about the magic of the market, Abbott has little interest in freedom. He is, for example, so untroubled by state interference in private lives that he hopes to extend the income management of the Northern Territory’s Indigenous intervention on a non-racial basis nationwide. Yet even his discussion of conservatism is incoherent. Abbott is clearly impressed by the claim that the essence of conservatism is an absence of “the spirit of improvement” and by Michael Oakeshott’s contempt for “the modern mindset … in love with change”. Yet when it comes to discussing his conservative heroes, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Howard, it is their “activism” and their radical transformative political agendas that he most admires. Or, take another example. Abbott claims to be a constitutional conservative. Yet the most significant reform proposal in Battlelines is a referendum that would effectively destroy the Federation. Despite his constitutional conservatism, Abbott is uninterested in unintended consequences and dismissive of legal niceties. This is not the way a true conservative normally thinks. This is not his only contradiction. On a rhetorical level Abbott writes in praise of small government and low taxes. On a programmatic level he advocates a profligate list that includes the elimination of means tests for Family Allowance, the Baby Bonus and private health insurance; high salary increases for elite teachers; a major new road-building program; the most fiscally generous parental leave system in the world, where parents will receive 100% of their salaries capped at $150,000; and, eventually, the extraordinarily expensive extension of Medicare to a system of universal dental treatment. Since writing his manifesto, Abbott 171 has added, as his alternative to the Rudd government’s emissions trading “big new tax”, a voluntary emissions reduction scheme funded in its entirety from the budget; a vague promise outlined in his debate with Rudd of 3000 or 4000 new hospital beds, an obvious contradiction to the claim in Battlelines that no “gargantuan” new spending on health was needed; and a “temporary” “levy” of 1.7% on all big business to pay for his parental leave scheme, which had higher-tax social democrats such as Bob Brown (and yours truly) cheering. Even at the level of rhetoric, Abbott is almost comically inconsistent. At one moment in Battlelines he solemnly promises a fiscal conservatism as rigorous as Peter Costello’s in the budget of 1996. At another, he tells his readers that governments must learn how to “spend” and not merely to “hoard”. Coherence is not the only quality missing from Battlelines. So is the capacity for even elementary self-reflection. Abbott argues that the Howard government was an entirely pragmatic and non-ideological government uninfluenced by the currents of neo-conservatism coming from the US. He also argues that the prime minister fought a number of brilliant campaigns in his conduct of the “culture wars”; that, in the course of these campaigns, Howard was tackling the “political correctness” of the elites on behalf of the common sense of ordinary people; and that the campaigns he fought over Indigenous reconciliation or multiculturalism were in defence of the very “legitimacy” of Australia. Does Abbott really not understand that the ideas about “culture wars”, “political correctness” and the undermining of national legitimacy by left-wing elites are clichés straight from the operational handbook of contemporary American neo- conservatism? Likewise, in defending the Howard government’s Iraq record, Abbott argues that “it was to liberate other people, to advance everyone’s interest and to uphold universal values that ‘the coalition of the willing’ went to war.” Does he not understand that he has just given us a kindergarten version of neo-conservative strategic doctrine, albeit one from which the explicit ambition for undisputed American global hegemony has been conveniently excised? 172 Abbott’s discussion of the Howard government’s involvement in the invasion of Iraq points to something in his political personality altogether disconcerting. As a con-sequence of Iraq, certainly tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people have died. Abbott was a member of the government that took Australia to war on the basis of a false intelligence trail. There is, however, no trace of anguish or even defensiveness in his discussion. A similar moral imperturbability is found when he discusses the Howard government’s treatment of asylum seekers or the question of Indigenous reconciliation. Despite the fact that the prolonged detention of asylum seekers inflicts grievous suffering and serious mental illness on very many innocent people, Abbott is apparently untouched. The rights of the asylum seekers, he tells us, have to be balanced against the rights of Australians to protect their borders. No more needs to be said. Abbott has reluctantly come to accept the apology to the Stolen Generations. His grudging tardiness is explained by the fact that, as he makes clear in Battlelines, he regards the dispossession and destruction of the Aboriginal people as merely a failure “to extend to Aboriginal people the kind of sympathetic understanding that was readily extended, say, to the Irish and their predicament” and the decades-long forced removal of Aboriginal children as “a mild enough form of racism”. No less disconcerting are his unbelievably superficial discussions of the Global Financial Crisis and the impending catastrophe of climate change. Although the ideological folly and the material greed of the most respectable brokers and bankers of Wall Street were responsible for the most devastating global economic collapse since the Great Depression, Battlelines shows Abbott’s naive faith in the beneficence of market capitalism altogether untouched. Even more seriously, Abbott must know that if the climate scientists are right, there is a chance that the very future of the Earth is in peril. Yet, because the issue has been thoroughly politicised and because his fellow conservatives in Australia and abroad have opted for do-nothing climate change denialism, Abbott is content to thoughtlessly follow their lead. 173 Given that, from everything I know, Abbott is a personally very decent human being, the moral insouciance he displays over the gravest questions of public life is some-thing I find difficult to fathom or forgive. Last month a meeting was convened at Stonington Mansion in Malvern, Victoria, to discuss the decline of Western civilisation. Participants included John Howard, Cardinal Pell, Hugh Morgan and Geoffrey Blainey, with Andrew Bolt as master of ceremonies. Although Tony Abbott was not in attendance, he is, of course, precisely the kind of prime minister for whom the Stonington group must yearn. Abbott is the only leading Coalition politician who is willing and able to entrench and even radicalise the neo-conservative and neo-liberal populist reconstruction of the Liberal Party that took shape under John Howard. His victory in this year’s election would galvanise the most hardline and backward-looking elements of contemporary Australian conservatism. By their heroes shall ye know them. For Tony Abbott the greatest world leaders of recent times are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher; the greatest contemporary theologian, Pope Benedict; the greatest Australian churchman, Cardinal Pell; the greatest Australian prime ministers, Robert Menzies and John Howard. Abbott looks to Kevin Donnelly for matters educational, to Christopher Pearson for matters cultural, to Keith Windschuttle for his interpretation of Aboriginal history and to Ian Plimer as his source of understanding in the area of climate change. When thick- as-bricks Sarah Palin won the vice-presidential nomination for the Republican Party, Abbott claimed with a perfectly straight face that she was an outstanding politician with greater experience than Barack Obama or John McCain and that she had just “the right stuff for high office”. Tony Abbott last month floated the idea of taking the dole from anyone under 30 who wouldn’t go to live in an area of labour shortage such as Western Australia. This echoed a notorious suggestion of Margaret Thatcher’s first 174 employment secretary, Norman Tebbit, who was reputed to have told the unemployed to get on their bikes. I have nothing whatever personal against Abbott. But I fervently hope, for the sake of the country and also for the sake of the Liberal Party, that later this year he leads the Coalition to a crushing election defeat. And that the nation can then say, in a single voice: “Tony Abbott, on your bike!” About the authorRobert Manne Robert Manne is Emeritus Professor and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University and has twice been voted Australia’s leading public intellectual. He is the author of Left, Right, Left: Political Essays, 1977–2005 and Making Trouble. Tracking Abbott's Wreckage is on Facebook. To connect with Tracking Abbott's Wreckage, join Facebook today. JoinLog In Tracking Abbott's Wreckage Community Like Message Share More 7,669 people like this About Bringing Sally McManus' comprehensive list to facebook. Not one piece of... 175 Photos Tracking Abbott's Wreckage 478. Breaks a promise to provide a stable and unified Government – 14 September 2015 Lateline - 26/06/2013: Opposition leader calls for an election date abc.net.au 14 September 2015 at 12:04 · Public 6 Comments · Full Story Tracking Abbott's Wreckage 477. Laughs at Pacific countries who’s existence is being threatened by climate change – 10 September 2015 Dutton jokes about rising sea levels in Pacific abc.net.au 12 September 2015 at 22:52 · Public 2 Comments · Full Story Tracking Abbott's Wreckage 476. Rejects recommendations to make banks pay for tax payer funded insurance – 4 September 2015 176 Tony Abbott's decision to drop bank tax 'bizarre' afr.com 12 September 2015 at 22:51 · Public 9 Comments · Full Story Tracking Abbott's Wreckage 475. Wastes $55 million, including $15 million on relocating four refugees to Cambodia before the deal to resettle refugees from Nauru collapses – 30 August 2015 Abbott defends $55m resettlement deal after Cambodia says no to more refugees theguardian.com 12 September 2015 at 22:50 · Public 2 Comments · Full Story Tracking Abbott's Wreckage 474. Oversees botched Border Force announcement that they would stopping people for visa checks in the Melbourne CBD - 28 August 2015 Australian Border Force farce leaves Tony Abbott under fire smh.com.au 28 August 2015 at 23:46 · Public 9 Comments · Full Story English (UK)한국어 Português (Brasil) Facebook ©2016 177 LOG IN 1. Home 2. Books & Authors 3. Books 178 Tony Abbott a man’s man 179 180 ‘I don't mind Tony personally, he's not a bad bloke. But as I said to him on the campaign he's as mad as a cut snake.’ Bob Hawke ‘To win power, he [Abbott] has to get sufficient support from women. If the government can seize on anything, even if it is a long bow, suggesting he is slighting Gillard on gender grounds, it will use it ruthlessly because it believes he has a weak spot.’ Michelle Grattan, The Age 'If he's elected as our PM in the future I would be very scared for women everywhere.' -- Mia Freedman When Julia Gillard -- a woman who was unmarried and childless, and an atheist -- became prime minister in 2010, Tony Abbott was left boiling with rage. Not only had he lost, but he had been defeated by a modern woman. For the time being, the ambitions of this fundamentalist Catholic and fiercely combative reactionary politician had been thwarted. Tony Abbott, a former pugilist and would-be priest, has dedicated his public life to the prosecution of his deeply traditional values. A favoured son in his own family, and raised in a cloistered world of male institutions, he has always been drawn to powerful mentors from his own caste -- priests, zealots, and father figures. Perhaps this is why so many voters, especially women, dislike him: they sense in Abbott's default aggressiveness and lack of balance a man not attuned to their centre-of-the- road, secular interests. In this blistering critique, Susan Mitchell explores how Australia's would-be prime minister became the man he is today. He is at war, not just with the government, but in an unrelenting battle for the hearts and minds of the Australian people. There is still time, he believes, to achieve the position that his male mentors think he is destined to hold -- that of leading the country back to 'the proper order of things'. But is he the prime minister-in-waiting that the country has to have -- or does he pose an unacceptable threat to his own party and to the nation? 181 Tony Abbott; War Pigs – War criminals and those who “accept” their crimes Posted: November 25, 2013 in Catholic Fascists, Genocide, Tony Abbott, War, War criminals, War Pigs Tags: Cambodia, crimes against humanity, Iraq, Joseph Kony, Khmer Rouge, Lords Resistance Army, Pol Pot, Pol Pot Slobodan Milosevic, Rwanda, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Tony Abbott, War crime, War Crimes 1 1 Vote War Pigs – War criminals and those who “accept” their crimes The last 50 years have seen some fantastic events and seen some huge steps forward for mankind, however it has also seen some of the worst than mankind can produce. There have been some atrocities over the last half century that defy belief, and some of those responsible for these acts are even still alive today. Before you delve further down the page I should warn you that there are some graphic images in this post that will upset some people, so please don’t say you were not warned. 182 In 1998 there would have been hardly a tear shed for the death of Pol Pot, the former dictator and ruthless leader of the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot is credited with the deaths of up to 3 Million Cambodians which made up around a quarter of Cambodia’s total population. Those in his camps were used as slaves and most died of disease and malnutrition, however many others were simply executed or some were killed in the most grotesque ways imaginable for the entertainment of the camp guards. Pol Pot died whilst under house arrest in his bed. Pol Pot Slobodan Milosevic was another one who got off lucky, dying of a heart attack in his prison whilst awaiting trial on March 11th 2006. Milosevic was awaiting trial for war crimes that included ethnic cleansing and genocide. Known as the “Butcher Of The Balkans” he presided over the deaths of more than 200,000 people over 10 years in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. …and the winner of the older Geert Wilders look alike contest is…. Slobodan Milosevic In 1994 The Rwandan genocide occurred while the world watched on for approximately 100 days and did little. The genocide was carried out by the Hutus who massacred somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,0000 Tutsis in the most brutal of fashions. 183 In 1998 Jean-Paul Akayesu, a Rwandan politician and mayor of a commune, was sentenced to life imprisonment for 9 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity which included the rape and sexual mutilation of women. Rwanda’s very own shock-jocks Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza were both given life sentences in October 2000 for inciting and encouraging the massacre throughout their broadcasts. Also serving a life sentence for his part in the genocide is Jean Kambanda who was the Prime Minister of Rwanda during the genocide. Bodies in a field in Rwanda We all remember the hunt for former Iraqi Dictator and war criminal Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own citizens, massacred thousands of Kurds and his own citizens, and after the Gulf War evidence of torture was discovered that appeared to be state sanctioned and carried out by members of Hussein’s Republican Guard. Saddam Hussein was eventually captured after being pulled out of a hole in the ground in December 2003. After facing trial for crimes against humanity Saddam Hussein was given the death penalty and was hung on the 30th December 2006 184 For the people of Iraq who faced years of fear and oppression under Saddam’s rule, his death was a cause for celebration. Saddam Hussein For those who suffered at the hands of Pol Pot and Milosevic it must have seemed cruel to see them both escape punishment so easily and die a relatively peaceful death when they themselves had been so inhumane and cruel in their bringing about the deaths of others. However it is not just these people who need to face investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity. One would have had to be hiding in a hole like Saddam Hussein to have missed Kony 2012. The social media campaign to try and bring about the tracking down, capture and conviction of Joseph Kony, thought to be hiding out in the Congo. Joseph Kony is the leader of the “Lords Resistance Army” thought to have recruited over 30,000 children for use as soldiers. Child soldiers recruited often kill their family while young girls are captured and used as sex slaves for the young soldiers. It is not known how many have been killed by Kony and his forces although conservative estimates by the UN put the number at over 100,000. Many of these deaths are amongst the most shocking and cruel deaths imaginable as soldiers compete to see who is the cruellest amongst them. Joseph Kony is still at large. Joseph Kony We have all seen in news broadcasts over the past few years the atrocities that are ongoing in the civil war in Syria. 185 Syrian President Bashar Assad has been accused of war crimes with calls for action against his regime coming from all over the globe. Assads regime has been notorious for war crimes against men women and children including massacres, torture, and evidence of the use of chemical weapons. Victims of Assad’s regime The UN expects more than 5 Million refugees to come from Syria by the end of 2014 as a result of Assad’s rule. Estimates on the death toll have varied with the UN saying that it is most certainly over 100,000. Most of the world has condemned Assad and are keen to bring him to justice and investigate him and his regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Victims of Syrian nerve gas attack It is something that is beyond doubt that those who commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity should be hunted down and severely punished for their crimes. Another nation where war crimes such as genocide, torture and ethnic cleansing are reported to have been committed is Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan civil war dragged on for 26 years and saw the deaths of over 100,000 people, mostly civilians. One incident towards the end of the war saw 300,000 civilians trapped on a narrow beach, 40,000 of these civilians were gunned down by the Sri Lankan army and many atrocities were alleged to have been committed. The man in charge of the Sri Lankan military was Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 186 Last week the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka was boycotted by Canada, India , and Mauritius as a protest against the human rights abuses and war crimes that have yet to see action taken. British Conservative Prime Minister was also keen to address the violations of human rights and see Sri Lanka investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Cameron stated during a press conference “Let me be very clear. If an investigation is not completed by March, then I will use our position on the United Nations human rights council to work with the UN human rights commission and call for a full credible and independent international inquiry.” It is clear that the British along with many other nations calling for justice for the countless thousands of innocent civilians that were tortured and massacred, men, women and children. Not to be outdone, Tony Abbott weighed in on the discussions and when questioned about the massacre and torture of civilians stated; “We accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen” I have never heard of a country being given a free pass for genocide and torture before, and those who committed some of the atrocities must be pleased to hear that someone accepts what they have done. Tony Abbott – Accepts Sri Lankan torture and genocide, but won’t accept Sri Lankan refugees The photo’s below are of some of the atrocities that Tony Abbott has accepted on our behalf when he uses the word “We” However Tony Abbott not only accepted their actions, which he says must have been difficult as I’m sure they were for those on the receiving end, but he also thought that giving a couple of gifts was appropriate. 187 A massacred Sri Lankan family David Cameron calls for war crimes investigations, Tony Abbott gives away gifts. So what gift is appropriate to give a nation who used its military to commit massacres and other crimes against humanity? More military equipment of course. A woman raped and murdered by Sri Lankan military soldiers Tony Abbott has given the Sri Lankan government two Navy Patrol Boats for them to use in any way they see fit in return for them clamping down on asylum seekers fleeing the country due to tensions that still exist and seeing their family members executed in many cases. A butchered Sri Lankan child The gift of military boats to the nation the UN accuses of war crimes costs the taxpayer $2 Million. The cynical may say Abbott is trying to emulate his idol John Howard who allegedly paid bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime via the Australian Wheat Board. The use of the boats as mentioned is totally unrestricted, the Sri Lankans can arm them with whatever weaponry they like. Fairfax reported on 19th November about the actions of a similar Sri Lankan patrol boat at the end of the civil war when it came across civilians on a fishing boat. 188 ”We held two white flags and on seeing the navy we called them, ‘Aiya, Aiya [Sir, Sir]‘. There was sudden shelling and eight died on the spot … navy hit, navy attacked and many people died.” A message needs to be sent to Tony Abbott that his actions and his words on this matter are not just inappropriate, they are truly sickening. More rape and murder in Sri Lanka As a nation we do not accept, endorse, or tolerate genocide or torture, it goes against everything we should be standing for. Tony Abbott, when you claim “we” accept this, you sure as hell don’t speak for me. With thanks, via http://wixxyleaks.com/ An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes Posted: November 9, 2013 in Laurie Oakes, Tony Abbott Tags: Abbott, Abbott government, Australia, Laurie Oakes, Peta Credlin, Politics of Australia, Prime Minister, Prime Minister Tony Abbott., Tony Abbott 5 189 1 Vote An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes By Victoria Rollison Dear Laurie Oakes I am writing seeking clarification. I can’t help but notice that you seem to be a little confused about your appraisal of the performance of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. I’m wondering if you perhaps want to rethink your description of Abbott, the Prime Minister, in the book you have been trying to flog – Remarkable Times – Australian Politics 2010-13: What really happened. I won’t pretend to have read this book. In fact, I found it near impossible to read even an extract, so predictable and so utterly boring and so obviously not about ‘what really happened’. You see, Laurie, between 2010-13, what really happened bore so little resemblance to what you and your fellow political journalist hacks reported as happening, you are the last person I would go to for insights about Australian politics in Australia across any period, let alone the previous three years. But, without having read it, I think I’m safe to assume your book has a similar theme to all your political reporting between 2010-13, summed up concisely in this extract. Describing Abbott’s first 11 days as Prime Minister, you say his behaviour over these 11 days is evidence of his new approach to government as being “careful and methodical”, where Abbott would “behave in a way that was ‘clear, consistent and coherent’”. In contrast, you explain the difference between Abbott’s government and the previous Labor government using these words: “But as far as the public and the media were concerned, it was 11 days of unaccustomed quiet after the Labor years of crisis, chaos and constant politicking. No-one complained. The nation was over politics and welcomes a respite”. 190 When you say ‘clear, consistent and coherent’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to explain, without scrutiny, what Peta Credlin wants Australians to think an Abbott government is going to be like. When you say ‘crisis, chaos and constant politicking’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to describe, without fact, the approach of the Labor government. When you say ‘no-one complained’, you’re not talking for me, you’re saying Peta Credlin was without complaint. When you say ‘the nation was over politics and welcomes a respite’, you are again speaking for Peta Credlin and saying what Peta Credlin hoped the nation felt, when in actual fact the only politics the intelligent part of this nation was ‘over’ was your false brand of horserace, completely lacking in policy detail, substance and fact. And this is what I mean when I say you are predictable, you are unreliable, you are presumptuous in speaking for people you know nothing about, and most importantly, you are wrong. But here’s where I think you’ve suddenly come unstuck. The real performance of the Abbott government, only weeks into the job, has proven how wrong you have been. Because reality doesn’t lie. Perhaps you thought all your Christmases had come at once, when you got the Abbott government you had wished for, and campaigned for all those years. But like a child who is promised a brighter future, and instead ends up with a sack of coal, the Abbott government has actually turned out to be just as incompetent, just as immature, just as dangerous and just as down-right unintelligent as people like me warned people like you it was going to be between 2010-13 and before. So you have found out the hard way ‘what really happened’. But your book is out now, and it’s too late to correct your inaccurate record. Apparently you seem to be coming to terms with this grave error, with the news this week that you’re unhappy with the Abbott government’s secretive modus operandi. Whereas in your book you say, in an appreciative tone: “Here was a Prime Minister-elect obviously serious about not feeding the hungry media beast”, 191 and by beast, I assume you mean people like you who love words like ‘chaos’, ‘crisis’, ‘scandal’ and of course ‘JuLiar’. Yet, only a few weeks later, you somewhat ironically backflip on this appreciation, having been quoted as saying: “You (Abbott) can’t thumb your nose at the voters’ right to know and you can’t arrogantly say ‘we’ll let the voters be misinformed and we won’t help journalists get it right’. That’s just a disgusting attitude.” I happen to agree with you, Laurie, that keeping voters uninformed is a pretty disgusting and arrogant attitude. And to this, I will say two things – pot kettle black, and, what the fuck did you expect? You have kept voters uninformed by completely failing to scrutinise what Abbott was going to do as Prime Minister. You perpetuated the utterly ridiculous notion that Abbott could move from nasty, messy, attack-dog to mature, competent Prime Minister. I’m sorry Laurie, but this concept is idiotic. An incompetent, lazy, rude, mean, un-charismatic, unreliable, unintelligent, misogynistic, unscrupulous, inarticulate thug is always going to be all of these things, whether he lives in the Lodge with his apparently attractive daughters or not. He wasn’t just all of these things when he was Opposition Leader because it suited his agenda at the time. It’s not a coat he can just take off. This is it. This is Tony Abbott. With Peta Credin barking instructions into his earpiece. This is Tony Abbott. Have you ever considered why Abbott’s office has disappeared into the cone of silence? Have you considered it’s because they’re completely over their heads and don’t actually have any idea what to say about their revolting plans for this country? This is not some grand master plan. This is a grand retreat into nothingness. This is incompetence personified. You and some of your colleagues don’t like that Abbott’s not telling you stuff. No doubt this has nothing to do with concern for the Australian community and how informed they are, and rather more to do with your difficulty in finding something to talk about, having relied on press releases from Peta Credlin, complete with Abbott’s talking points, and leaks from Rudd for all those years. But guess what Laurie, this is the least of the problems we, the informed public, have with Tony Abbott. 192 I’m less concerned with what he’s not saying, and more concerned, if concerned is a strong enough a word, with what he is doing. Handing responsibility for massively important decisions about government spending to a business lobbyist. Cutting funding to scientific research. Embarrassing Australia on the global stage. Slashing and burning public sector jobs. Ripping up future-proofing infrastructure by destroying the NBN. Raising the debt ceiling to all time highs with no explanation as to why just weeks after claiming a ‘budget emergency’. Cancelling the Carbon Price for an expensive joke of a Direct Action Policy which is beyond humiliating for the country, right at the same time when the public are finally starting to realise that electricity bills are not more important than the safety of the planet. Lying about deals he’s made with Indonesia to turn back boats and pretending the very act of him becoming Prime Minister has stopped the boats. Not to mention the real ‘chaos’ and ‘crisis’ which Abbott refuses to address – his and his minister’s fraudulent use of taxpayer funds for expensive travel and accommodation for their own egos and personal entertainment. And you thought Julia Gillard’s dodgy ex-boyfriend from 20 years ago constituted a ‘scandal’ because some nut-job internet troll said so? You still said she had ‘questions to answer’ even after she answered every snide and absurd question you are your malicious colleagues in the National Press Club could conjure up? Seriously Laurie, you have no right to tell anyone ‘what really happened’. You’ve been negligent to the extreme in informing the public what to expect from an Abbott government. Now you’re worried that Abbott’s secretive non-consultative strategy is keeping voters misinformed? I really hope you don’t live in a glass house with a ready collection of stones. Moving on to ‘what the fuck did you expect’. You seem quite surprised now that Abbott isn’t turning out the way you anticipated. So I say again, what the fuck did you expect? Did you fall for the ‘they are just the same’ tactic, used to refute people like me who said, for years, that Abbott was going to be a disaster again and again and again no matter whether people wanted to hear it or not? Whenever I think of Abbott, and what a setback he is for Australia, I can’t help but hear the words of Paul Keating from this interview in 2010 where he said: “If Tony Abbott ends up as Prime Minister of Australia, you’ve got to say, God help us, God help us. A truly intellectual nobody. And no policy ambition. You know, I mean, is that all there is?” 193 As I knew, and as you are quickly learning, Abbott is all there is. And thanks to the lack of scrutiny of him by people like you before the election, Australia is stuck with him. For one term at least. And now you’re saying you’re not happy with Abbott’s performance? Spare a thought for people like me, who saw it coming and are now justified to say over and over again – ‘I told you so’. Yours Sincerely Victoria Rollison Related articles  An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (victoriarollison.com)  Laurie Oakes slams Abbott government (theage.com.au)  An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (theaimn.com)  Laurie Oakes hits out at Tony Abbott (smh.com.au)  An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (nickthiwerspoon.wordpress.com) The Monthly Essays Inside Tony Abbott's mind This is serious By Waleed Aly July 2013 3 © John Woudstra / Fairfax Syndication uly 2013Medium length read Tony Abbott was the man who could never be prime minister. “He’s just too right-wing,” a colleague told the Courier-Mail. “Too hardline,” said another to Abbott’s face. “He’s very 194 much a mid-20th century sort of a bloke,” declared Labor strategist Bruce Hawker in early June, only to be trumped the following evening by Kevin Rudd, on the 7.30 program, who called him “one of the most extreme right-wing conservative leaders or politicians that the Liberal Party has thrown up”. Advertisement <="" iframe="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="300" height="600"></div> <iframe name="google_ads_iframe_/1042965/Monthly_Essay_BodyRight_300x600_0__hid den__" id="google_ads_iframe_/1042965/Monthly_Essay_BodyRight_300x600_0__hidden __" src="javascript:&quot;<html><body style='background:transparent'></body></html>"" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" style="border: 0px currentColor; border-image: none; vertical- align: bottom; display: none; visibility: hidden;" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="0" height="0"&gt; From the front page The cult of the arseholeAustralia should have a long, hard think about the kind of people we prioritiseDiabolicalWhy have we failed to address climate change? Weighted to the downsideNotes from Davos and predictions for 2016Live from MexchesterMexrrissey at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney Festival, 23 January 2016Not so exciting timesMalcolm Turnbull needs to make some tough decisions before 2016 gets away from himDi Natale vs the GreensThe Greens leader is at odds with his party on the risks of GMO crops Flamin’ legendKev Carmody at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney Festival, 17 January 2016 Between the linesMaking sense of the adult colouring craze Gesture politicsRecognition alone won’t fix indigenous affairs Abbott took the Liberal Party leadership from Malcolm Turnbull at a time when conventional wisdom considered support for an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) politically mandatory, then proceeded to campaign vociferously against exactly that. Within seven months he had seen off the once-invincible Rudd, and within two more almost defeated a first-term government at the ballot box, forcing it to minority status. Since then, his grip on Labor’s throat has only tightened. 195 Now he sits on the verge of victory. People will have their expectations – and especially their suspicions – but no one really knows how Abbott would act as prime minister. Even his colleagues are unsure. There are some very specific big-ticket items – such as his parental leave scheme and his determination to rescind the carbon tax – but the latter is something to be opposed, and the Liberal party room detests the former. His industrial relations policy is vague, and seems a cautious distance from WorkChoices and the reforms so many in his party and in business want to see. “Abbott looks set to become a do-nothing PM,” Peter van Onselen recently opined in the Australian. Van Onselen was voicing the concerns of more than a few of Abbott’s colleagues, who fear being handed power with no mandate and no agenda. That’s certainly not the way his progressive critics see him. To them, Abbott is the hyper- Catholic, overly aggressive, climate change–denying, homophobic, sexist populist who wants to impose his idiosyncratic religious views on an unwilling public. Julia Gillard would never use quite those terms, but she came close with her recent prediction that an Abbott government would “banish women’s voices from our political life” and make abortion “the political plaything of men who think they know better”. This Abbott is the embodiment of everything the last five decades of social progress have strived to overcome. Thus he is cast as essentially regressive: a creature of the past, intending to take us all back there. His foes are maddened that the nation apparently cannot see what seems so obvious to them: Abbott is shallow, devious and so frighteningly backwards that no sane person would hand him power. The urge to dismiss Abbott underestimates him completely, both as a politician and as a thinker: Tony Abbott is a serious person The trouble with this caricature is that it rests on contradictions. Abbott cannot be both a shameless populist and a man of unshakeable retrograde convictions. He can’t be driven to say anything to get elected, while also insistently inflicting his unpopular religious views on the electorate. This is the conundrum of Tony Abbott to many of his critics (and not a few of his supporters). Hence the frequent claims of hypocrisy. Abbott is many things. Too many things, really. He’s the “conviction politician” who frequently and spectacularly changes his mind. He’s the conservative who cherishes our institutions and constitutional arrangements, but would like to alter them radically to enable a 196 massive federal takeover of health and education. His two greatest and most frequently cited influences are Bob Santamaria and John Howard. Santamaria was a Democratic Labor Party Catholic archetype, the kind who utterly despised the moral depredations and social ravages of capitalism. Howard is the author of WorkChoices, perhaps the most pro-capitalist, antisocial legislation of the past decade. They represented opposing brands of politics. Dig a little deeper, though, and there’s a consistency to Abbott. He is aware, for instance, that his centralist views sit oddly with both the conservative and liberal preferences for diversified power. He counters this with a reasoned argument of his own: where it is clear that the federal system is failing to deal with the contemporary demands of our health service, “the logic of the states’ rights position is that theory trumps practice” – which itself violates the tenets of conservative thought. At times he shows blind spots. Abbott has no place for longer, more irregular working hours as an explanation for why we’re seeing an increased incidence of relationship breakdowns, for instance. But his understanding of politics and society is not nearly as haphazard as it sometimes appears. The urge to dismiss him underestimates him completely, both as a politician and as a thinker: Tony Abbott is a serious person. Behind the contrived fluoro-jacketed appearances at workplaces, behind the simplistic sloganeering, is someone with a far more considered view of the world than his critics suppose. Abbott is comprehensible, but only on his own terms. You don’t have to like those terms, but it is possible to grasp them, to get some sense of how Abbott thinks about politics, and why his critics are destined to maintain their visceral rage towards him. The rage begins with his unscrupulous approach to Opposition. All politicians indulge in double standards, but few have done it so unashamedly as Abbott. Examples abound, such as his preparedness to attack Craig Thomson while the allegations against him are before the courts, but his refusal to comment on the Federal Court’s explosive findings against Mal Brough on the flimsy pretext that an appeal might be forthcoming. Similarly, Abbott’s attack on Gillard’s broken carbon-tax promise has made the sanctity of one’s word a litmus test for legitimacy, but he has no compunction about reneging on written agreements that no longer suit him. Most recently he did this over a deal on public funding for political parties. But recall also that in the aftermath of the 2010 election, when each of the major parties was negotiating with the crossbench in the hope of forming minority government, Abbott agreed to a pairing arrangement. This would ensure that whichever side of politics provided the 197 speaker would not be disadvantaged in the House of Representatives by losing the vote of that member, because the other side would forgo a vote of its own. As soon as it became clear that Labor would form government and provide the speaker, Abbott’s Coalition backed out of the agreement. We should not be surprised. Abbott has spent a lot of time thinking about precisely what an Opposition’s job is. He made his intentions abundantly clear immediately on assuming the Liberal Party leadership: Oppositions are not there to get legislation through. Oppositions are there to hold the government to account. And unless we are confident that a piece of legislation is beyond reasonable doubt in the national interest, it is our duty as the Opposition to vote it down. This is the Abbott doctrine. He would not acquiesce unless the only remaining objections were so slight as to be unreasonable. He would approve of nothing that was justified on balance. Abbott would treat the government as though it were the prosecutor in a criminal trial aiming to deprive someone of their liberty. It’s a standard designed to ensure no innocent people are convicted, even if the guilty go free by the hundred. In this way, Abbott was apparently happy to see countless good ideas perish for the sake of preventing a single bad one coming to fruition. Just as a defence lawyer does his opponent no favours, Abbott wouldn’t co-operate to make good legislation better. Here was the ultimate contrast with Turnbull, who had negotiated amendments to Rudd’s ETS. Abbott was emphatically rejecting that deal, and, when asked if he would be willing to negotiate new, more satisfactory amendments, he simply repeated his rejectionist doctrine, in quasi-legal terms: Now, if we are absolutely confident that what the government is doing is beyond reasonable doubt in the national interest, sure, let’s go along with it. But if you’ve got the sort of doubts that we obviously have over this, well, we’re obliged to oppose it. It’s tempting to see this as an extension of Abbott’s personality. Hereabouts we’d typically read of the punches Abbott is alleged to have thrown at his opponents during his university politics days, of his affinity for boxing and the rougher aspects of rugby. No doubt this kind of aggression comes easily to him, and has served him well in running myriad disruptive political campaigns since his undergraduate years, but there’s more thought to it than that. 198 This is a studied approach to the art of opposition. Perhaps the most telling statement in Abbott’s first press conference as leader was his invocation of an old political foe in mounting his anti–ETS argument: Now, I don’t want to spend the rest of my political life quoting Paul Keating, but remember what Paul Keating said in another context. He said, “If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it, and if you do understand it, you’d never vote for it.” With this line, Keating stole John Hewson’s unlosable 1993 election. Abbott spent that election working in Hewson’s office, mostly writing speeches Hewson didn’t use. Hewson was the quintessential constructive Opposition leader, the kind who would rather lose an election than go to one without an agenda, and there was no doubting his agenda in 1993. His Fightback! manifesto was a whopping 650-page tome, providing detailed proposals for radical economic change. Today we remember it for broaching the topic of a GST, but it was far grander than that. It proposed abolishing awards and remaking industrial relations, greatly reducing the availability of bulk billing in Medicare, abolishing payroll taxes, selling off state-owned enterprises, and giving generous tax cuts to middle and upper-middle income earners. In short, it was probably the most comprehensive neoliberal blueprint for Australia ever drawn up as policy. He released it more than a year ahead of the election. The backlash was considerable, leading Hewson to release a revised version a year later, which exempted food and childcare from the GST. As far as policy-making goes, it was a perfectly respectable process. Yet Hewson became the first Opposition leader since the ’60s to give an incumbent government an increased majority. © John Woudstra / Fairfax Syndication In 1994, Hewson was forced to declare Fightback! “dead and buried”. Abbott would later borrow the phrase (adding “cremated”) regarding Howard’s WorkChoices. The imprint of that experience remains. Abbott saw Hewson’s destruction up close. He knows better than most the effectiveness of Keating’s attack in those years, and the dangers of Hewson’s policy- heavy approach. Long before there was any likelihood of Abbott becoming Opposition leader, he had taken his lessons from this. He doesn’t doubt Hewson’s policy gravitas. In fact, 199 he calls him “one of Australia’s most influential policy makers” because “the Keating and Howard governments proceeded to implement most of his agenda”, but also acknowledges that Hewson “failed as a political leader”. For Abbott, then, there is a clear difference between government and Opposition, a conviction forged in the fire of Hewson’s defeat. The two demand different modes of behaviour. As he writes in Battlelines, his recently republished book of 2009: An Opposition party’s main day-to-day task is always to mount an effective critique of the government ... The next Liberal government won’t need to assume office with specific policies on all topics down to the last detail. Too much detail can easily give the government material for a scare campaign. Abbott took over the Liberal leadership from Turnbull, a man who had spent months negotiating in good faith with Kevin Rudd to shape an ETS, and whose reward was seeing Rudd continue to bury him in the polls. Bearing all this in mind, Abbott was never going to be co-operative on an issue that was dividing his party. Abbott knew his task, and it certainly didn’t involve being an active participant in government. As he told The 7.30 Report the evening he became Opposition leader: “You know what I think happened today? We went from being a former government to being a fair dinkum Opposition.” It seems inconceivable to those who see in Abbott only a man whose attitudes are out of step with society’s, but his political judgement is finely honed. His critique of Rudd’s prime ministership, with its fatal micro-management and sidelining of the cabinet – written when Rudd was soaring in the polls – proved exactly right. The year before it happened, he foresaw that Rudd would “soon find himself under pressure from his ambitious deputy” (though he could have never predicted the extraordinary manner of Rudd’s axing). He warned John Howard that the abolition of the no-disadvantage test under WorkChoices was foolhardy and “was always going to look as though we were exposing vulnerable people to danger”. This “catastrophic political blunder” would cost the Coalition its “blue-collar conservatives”, who mattered more than the “doctors’ wives” to its electoral prospects. When polls were showing that the electorate wanted action on climate change, Abbott saw that Australians nonetheless would be “unlikely to support policy changes that they think might make daily life harder or much more expensive”. He also noted that most wanted more information about the ETS they were supporting, and that about half opposed an ETS being introduced before the rest of the 200 world declared its position at the Copenhagen conference. His gamble against the will of the electorate was anything but. What looked to be a rejection of public opinion was in fact a very subtle reading of it. It’s easy to mock Abbott’s changing positions on climate change. It’s also easy to see the streak of denialism in him. Battlelines rehearses several classic denialist arguments: we’ve had radical changes in climate before industrialisation; future changes in climate are “unknown and perhaps even benign”; climate change used to be called “global warming” until particularly cold winters in Europe and North America demonstrated that the alarmists were wrong. He cites approvingly Bjorn Lomborg’s declaration that “a narrow focus on reducing carbon emissions could leave future generations lumbered with major costs, without major cuts in temperatures”. It’s a deceptive line. The point of carbon-emission reduction isn’t to reduce global temperatures: it’s to limit the inevitable temperature rise to a level that isn’t catastrophic. The truth is that Abbott’s beliefs on climate-change science don’t govern his political actions. He supported an ETS under Howard, then opposed one in Battlelines. He supported one again under Turnbull’s leadership, then unseated his boss and took his job in order to defeat it. Now he rails against the carbon tax. Clearly, he opposes an ETS or a carbon tax as a matter of principle. Whether or not he supports one as a matter of policy is, at all times, a matter of political judgement. If he thinks it is inevitable, if he thinks the argument against it is ultimately lost, then he will acquiesce. That’s what led John Howard to adopt one just before his political demise. It’s what led Abbott to go along with Turnbull, who famously declared that the Coalition would be “wiped out” without one. But, in the end, Abbott was convinced that “the politics of this issue have changed dramatically”. He was right. For Abbott, conservatives “are better suited to defending barricades than to storming them” For all his reputation as a man of zeal, Abbott is very much a pragmatist. There are those moments when pragmatism meets conviction, and Abbott will pounce on them much like any politician, but he very rarely indulges in moral idealism. In David Marr’s Quarterly Essay on Abbott, he explains this as a contest between “Values Abbott” and “Politics Abbott”, a contest which Politics Abbott ultimately wins: 201 Win or lose, nothing will be done to roll back abortion rights because Politics Abbott knows that’s simply not possible. Values Abbott will work to cushion families from the realities of economic life. And if the Coalition parties allow him, Values Abbott will protect working men and women from the full force of the labour market. But he won’t put his career on the line for any of this. He won’t abandon his old DLP principles, but he won’t be a martyr to them either. The Abbott that matters is Politics Abbott. The conclusion works, but this isn’t some fight between the two halves of Tony Abbott that only his worldly ambition resolves. Rather, this is a straightforward application of conservative political philosophy. Any serious conservative understands that there is a world of difference between private morality and public policy. It embraces axiomatically what Anthony Quinton dubbed “the politics of imperfection”: this idea that social norms should not be bent to the will of some overarching moralism. The great British conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott called it a “mood of indifference”, which requires the conservative “to rein in one’s own beliefs and desires, to acknowledge the current shape of things, to feel the balance of things in one’s hand, to tolerate what is abominable, to distinguish between crime and sin”. The conservative’s private morality is, ultimately, beside the point. It’s entirely possible for a conservative (like Abbott’s friend, the late Christopher Pearson) to be gay, but to oppose same-sex marriage on the basis that it messes unduly with an ancient institution. Or, conversely, to believe that homosexuality is an abomination, but accept same-sex marriage on the basis that social attitudes make change inevitable and the institution of marriage might otherwise fall into disrepute. Oakeshott makes the point explicit: “It is not at all inconsistent to be conservative in respect of government and radical in respect of almost every other activity.” Abbott has read Oakeshott. Indeed he invokes Oakeshott as an authority for the idea that as far as conservatives are concerned, “few principles are dogmatically held and one person’s opinion is considered as likely as the next person’s to be right”. He accepts the idea that conservatives have no business trying to create a world that realises their own moral vision: “Unlike liberalism or socialism, conservatism does not start with an idea and construct a huge superstructure based on one insight or preference,” he writes, adding elsewhere that “ideologues want to impose their values on others. Pragmatists want to solve others’ 202 problems as long as the cure is not worse than the disease.” He puts himself very much in the latter category. That is not to say Abbott’s conservatism is unconcerned with moral values. He’s concerned with the breakdown of society’s moral fabric, and will resist what he sees as moral disintegration if it’s happening before him, but he’s not radically moralistic. He won’t try to re-create an idealised moral past. His conservatism means he submits to irretrievable moral developments in society. “As an ambitious politician, I had never had the slightest intention of becoming a morals campaigner,” he writes in Battlelines. For Abbott, conservatives “are better suited to defending barricades than to storming them”. Take, for instance, Abbott’s understanding of what he calls “the evolving family”, which is “often sole-parent or blended”: The fact that the divorce rate has increased from about 10 per cent to about 40 per cent in the past two generations is not really so surprising. Nor is the fact that people frequently live together before making a formal commitment to each other. It reflects the social changes of the past century much more than it signifies a collapse of moral standards ... A hundred years ago, most people married their first love at about 20 and lived to be about 50. These days, people typically marry their third or fourth love at about 30 and live to be about 80. It’s not realistic to expect most young adults in this hyper-sexualised age to live chastely for many years outside marriage. Even if people’s expectations of their partners and spouses were much less high, longer lives would tend to mean more potential exposure to the rocks on which marriages often founder. People have not so much abandoned traditional mores as found that the old standards don’t so readily fit the circumstances of their lives. He does not rail against these things as you might expect a conservative Catholic to do. Perhaps it’s because he himself failed to observe Catholic abstinence as a young man, but his account of these social developments is nuanced, undogmatic and certainly not doctrinal. Yet, he told Women’s Weekly that young couples should observe “the rules” prohibiting pre-marital sex. Asked about the advice he would give his daughters on sex, he volunteers the idea that their virginity is “the greatest gift you can give someone ... and don’t give it to someone lightly”. When asked by the Sunday Age to recount his best personal advice, he came up with “avoid the occasion of sin”. This is the stuff that scares his critics, who see in this a plan to control women’s sexuality. 203 “Australian women don’t want to be told what to do by Tony Abbott,” shot back Gillard, then deputy prime minister, after the Women’s Weekly interview. He wasn’t quite doing that. He was talking about the advice he would give, as a father, to his daughters. That distinction probably doesn’t matter to most casual observers, but it matters to Abbott. It’s when Abbott is being asked about his personal convictions that he says these things. When he is speaking at the level of society, his observations are much more accommodating of what we might call un-Catholic social norms. The distinction between what he tells his daughters and what his plans are for society is one I suspect Abbott understands instinctively as a conservative. Tony Abbott with former prime minister John Howard, January 2013 © Tony Abbott It might be true that Tony Abbott would, all things being equal, prefer a world where, say, abortion is illegal. It is certainly true that he thinks the frequency of abortion in Australia is “a national tragedy”, that it is (at least sometimes) “the easy way out” and that excessive “teenage promiscuity” is to blame. He is – or at least was – up for the ethical and cultural debate on abortion. That makes him unusual in our political culture. Few others would ask us to foster a “culture where people understand that actions have consequences and take responsibility seriously”, as though abortion were a matter entered into lightly. His personal moral position on this is deeply conservative and, to many, deeply offensive. But when it comes to public policy, Abbott insists that “no one wants to bring back the backyard abortion clinic or to stigmatise the millions of Australians who have had abortions or encouraged others to do so”. In Battlelines, he makes an explicit distinction between “deploring the frequency of abortion and trying to re-criminalise it”. From his time as Howard’s health minister, and from Battlelines, we know his approach will be to try to “nudge the abortion rate down without affecting women’s right to choose”, probably by tailoring support services accordingly. But he’ll also be extremely wary of taking any steps that will unleash a backlash. For Marr, this is because Politics Abbott won’t have the numbers and wouldn’t risk the political cost of doing 204 anything more coercive. I suspect his reasons are more philosophically considered. His political conservatism means he understands the folly of trying to re-create the past. He knows that any attempt at regressive change would probably create a bigger problem than it is trying to solve. About the authorWaleed Aly Waleed Aly is an ABC Radio National broadcaster, former practising solicitor and a lecturer in politics at Monash University. He is the author of People Like Us and Quarterly Essay 37, 'What's Right? The Future of Conservatism in Australia', published in 2010. Online Only Political Animal The Making of Tony Abbott By David Marr March 2013 ‘Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott’ by David Marr, Black Inc, 256pp; $19.95 March 2013Medium length read Topics Tony Abbott Universities ShareEmailFacebookTweetGoogle+LinkedIn http://mnth. 205 Extract from the revised and updated edition of Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott by David Marr. Published today by Black Inc. Available in print and ebook. The 1977 race for the presidency of the SRC was the first political contest that really mattered to Abbott. He was the great hope of the right. The campaign that winter term was bitter and he lost, heavily, to Barbara Ramjan. Though she was of the left, her work as the SRC’s welfare officer had made her a popular figure across the factions. Her victory was declared on the evening of 28 July in the SRC’s rooms in the basement of the Wentworth building. It was an especially dismal time for Abbott: his defeat came two days after the birth of the child he thought was his son. A science student was using the cheap photocopier in the SRC foyer when trouble erupted around him. He had many friends in the SRC but was not politically active. Now a professor of biomedical science, he told me: “Suddenly a flying squad of yahoos led by Abbott came down the stairs. Abbott is unmistakable. Everybody knew Tony Abbott. He was all over campus all the time. He walked past me quickly but his gang screamed ‘commie’ and ‘poofter’ and the guy behind him grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me against the wall. I was furious. I picked myself up and immediately followed these thugs down the corridor.” Ramjan was in the corridor. As Abbott approached, she thought he was coming to offer his congratulations. “But no, that’s not what he wanted. He came up to within an inch of my nose and punched the wall on either side of my head.” She recalls with cold disdain: “It was done to intimidate.” Two “great logs of guys” were obscuring the science student’s view. “I saw Abbott raise his elbow above his head and his fist was clenched and then he drove his fist down. I did not see a punch land. As I pushed along the corridor, I saw Barbara being helped up very ashen- faced.” He has no doubt who it was. “These two polarising figures on campus were unmistakable and here was Abbott acting as he did all the time. He was a bit of a thug and quite proud of it I think.” He never forgot the incident: “I have been talking about it for a long time.” As Abbott and his mates disappeared down the corridor, Ramjan looked about for her campaign manager, David Patch. Years later he would write in the Sydney Morning Herald: 206 Ramjan found me. She is a small woman, and Tony Abbott was (and is) a strong man. She was very shaken, scared and angry. She told me that Abbott had come up to her, put his face in her face, and punched the wall on either side of her head. So, I am a witness. Her immediate complaint to me about what Abbott had just done had the absolute ring of truth about it. I believed Ramjan at the time, and still do. Barbara Ramjan has been telling that story about Abbott ever since. Patch, now a senior barrister in Sydney, was provoked to write in 2012 because thirty-five years after the event Abbott decided to deny the punch ever happened. I know what happened. I write not to land a blow on (or near) Mr Abbott, but to ensure that the debate about the character and suitability of a potential Prime Minister is fully and accurately informed. All the authorities agree this was a terrible year. September saw another night of bad-boy behaviour at the SRC, with allegations of flashing, intimidation and sexist abuse. Four students wrote to Honi Soit condemning Abbott on another charge: heckling the SRC’s new ethnic relations officer, Takis Constantopedos: “Comments like this directed in a mocking and denigratory manner are a reflection of the racist attitudes of reactionaries.” Abbott denied almost everything. True, his mate had pissed on a tree: “I really don’t think urinating against a tree is such a terrible crime. It was quite late at night …” But otherwise he accused his “extreme left” opponents of acting like Goebbels by spreading “brazen and outright” lies. 207 October saw him heckling speakers at the Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education. Helen Wilson, a trainee teacher, was at the microphone defending AUS when she heard a voice shouting, “Why don’t you smile, honey?” and says she felt a hand groping between her legs. “I jumped back, turned around, and saw Tony Abbott laughing about two feet away. The people in the audience began laughing and jeering.” Abbott was charged with indecent and common assault. He would be acquitted after giving the court a rather different account and producing a number of witnesses to support him: “She was speaking about me in a highly critical way, calling me an AUS basher and noted right-wing supporter. To let her know I was standing behind her I leaned forward and tapped her on the back, about the level of her jeans belt.” Abbo and his mates reckoned humourless people took them the wrong way. They were just having a bit of sport, pranks and larks. And if there was ever any argy-bargy it was only to counter the bad behaviour of the left. The left started everything. The left was always to blame. Veterans of those days still talk of the mayhem Abbott generated around him, of the packs of hecklers and the flying squad of mates, of him storming platforms and grabbing microphones to denounce lesbians and abortions. “At times it was all rather childish,” Abbott confessed years later. “At times it was a little bit scary. But it was always bloody good fun.” Ramjan doesn’t let him off so lightly. “He was the most in your face. That’s what set him apart. There were, of course, other Liberal Party and DLP types on campus but they weren’t offensive and they weren’t rude. They were people you could talk to. You could sit down and have a cup of tea with them. I would never do that with Tony Abbott. He’s not that sort of person. I don’t care what your politics are, you can still engage with another person. You don’t have to be threatening. You don’t have to be just that awful person.” She called the year that followed – with her as president and Abbott on the SRC executive – the worst of her life. “I have no doubt Tony was a most charming man when he wanted to be. It was a very conscious choice he made. I doubt there would have been any moment in that year that he would have been charming towards me.” But Abbott’s noisy behaviour and hard-line views were winning him a following. And he was learning some political lessons. He didn’t have to be a nice guy. He didn’t have to go with the flow. It was possible to stand against the political tide. Tyro journalist Malcolm Turnbull watched Abbott at the AUS conference of early 1978. He wrote in the Bulletin: 208 The leading light of the right-wingers in NSW is twenty-year-old Tony Abbott. He has written a number of articles on AUS in the Australian and his press coverage has accordingly given him a stature his rather boisterous and immature rhetoric doesn’t really deserve. AUS was on its last legs. Its income had nearly halved. Eleven campuses had seceded. AUS Travel had collapsed among allegations of corruption. Turnbull acknowledged the growing support on campuses for the Democratic Clubs and for Abbott, and asked a question he must look back on now with rather grim irony: how could a student of Abbott’s views hope to be a national leader? About the authorDavid Marr David Marr is a writer and journalist. He is the author of the award-winning Patrick White: A Life, Quarterly Essay 38, ‘Power Trip’, and co-author of Dark Victory. He has been a reporter with Four Corners and the host of Media Watch. Abbott’s humour less than killer, but does he lack compassion? by David Ritter, academic, commentator and campaigner | Mar 19, 2012 2:16PM | EMAIL | PRINT The passing of Margaret Whitlam at age 92 has elicited an outpouring of respect bordering on reverence across Australia. Whitlam’s contribution to Australian life was profound and is indeed deserving of tremendous national appreciation. It is deeply disappointing then that opposition leader Tony Abbott saw fit to mark Whitlam’s death with a cheap shot on her husband’s political legacy. Tastelessly, he said: 209 “There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam.” Yep, really nice, having a go at a 95-year-old invalid on the day when his wife of 70 years has died. And hardly the kind of conduct you want to see exhibited in the alternative prime minister. But then Abbott has a long history of dealing with other people’s mortality less than respectfully. Infamously, Abbott once said of (now deceased, but then terminally ill) asbestosis sufferer Bernie Bantam that “just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things”. Then there was the time that Abbott described Kevin Rudd’s account of his own father’s death as sounding “too self-serving to be true”. And let’s not forget the occasion when Abbott responded to the death of Australian soldier Jared MacKinney in Afghanistan by commenting that “shit happens”. In February 2010, a jovial Abbott thought it was funny to remark that “[t]he only one of the Ten Commandments that I am confident that I have not broken is the one about killing, and that’s because I haven’t had the opportunity yet”. In the same month, while pursuing Peter Garrett over the administration of the stimulus package for home insulation, Abbott’s choice of language around the four industrial fatalities in question was sometimes pretty doubtful, including his repeated brandishing of the slogan “electrocution denial”. Last year, Abbott put political tactics ahead of public grieving and remembrance when he thought it appropriate to refuse parliamentary pairs preventing Simon Crean and Malcolm Turnbull from attending the funeral of painter Margaret Olley. Then in January this year, Abbott was in a lighter mood again, jokily bantering about the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster, which at that stage was known to have involved at least 11 deaths. Whitlam was a great woman whose death deserves national recognition, but the end of every life should be treated with gravity and dignity. We will all live through the bereavement of friends and loved ones, and in the end death comes to us all. Treating dying with solemnity and compassion is one of the marks of a civilised society. 210 As one runs through this list of gaffes — and there have been others  — it is possible to make excuses for Abbott on each occasion. Defence Minister Stephen Smith generously said, for example, that he did not “believe that Tony Abbott would say anything that was flippant or insulting or critical about an Australian soldier, an Australian soldier’s death or our contribution in Afghanistan” in relation to the “shit happens” incident. And of course let he who is without sin cast the first stone: none of us are immune from moments of social brain- failure and charmless insensitivity. Yet nonetheless, there is something troubling about the sheer number of times Abbott has seemingly been flippant about the deaths of others. At the very least, his serial insensitivity shows a standard of manners and politeness less than that which should be a minimum requirement for public office. At worst what is revealed is a genuine failure of compassion. Taken collectively there seems to be pattern of instinctive and aggressive callousness; an impulsive failure of empathy. In a pen portrait of Abbott in The Monthly, playwright Louis Nowra wrote of Abbott as a boxer in his younger days that: “Whenever Abbott entered the ring he was, as he once said, ‘terrified. It’s one of those things you make yourself do’. In his first bout — against Cambridge in March 1982 — he knocked out his opponent within the opening minute, and his three other fights were equally successful. He had little technique but a brutal sense of attack, which he called ‘the whirling dervisher’.” The parallel with Abbott’s political approach suggested by Nowra is obvious enough. But perhaps there is also insight as to the motivation: by his own admission, it was fear that drove Abbott inside the boxing arena. As one observes Abbott’s various distasteful remarks about death, one can only wonder whether the Opposition Leader is again terrified, driven by some visceral internal fear. If so, he deserves compassion. *Afterword: it is appropriate in context to remember my good mate Jaye Radisich, former Western Australian state Labor MP for the seat of Swan Hills (2001-2008) who died over the weekend aged only 35 after a long battle with cancer 211 The Monthly Essays The whirling dervish On Tony Abbott By Louis Nowra January 2010 ny Abbott. © MystifyMe/Flickr February 2010Medium length read Topcs Politics ShareEmailFacebookTweetGoogle+LinkedIn http://mnth.ly ADVERTISEMENT A couple of days after Tony Abbott became leader of the Opposition, I found myself in an emergency ward waiting for an operation. It was a Saturday and, given that St Vincent’s is part of New South Wales’ increasingly stressed hospital system, the staff were doing the best 212 they could after misplacing me in a storeroom for several hours. My surgery was postponed half a dozen times due to the backlog; on the second night I was operated on. I was lucky enough to get the final bed available in the whole hospital. The two days I spent in emergency, I whiled away my time trying to block my ears to the cries of angry injured drunks and moaning victims, and listening to conversations from the other curtained-off beds. A nurse came in to tend to a fellow opposite my cubicle. A news item about Abbott must have been on the patient’s television because the nurse casually asked him what he thought of the new Opposition leader. “I live in his electorate,” he said, “but even though I don’t vote Liberal, I met him once and he took time out to talk to me. He’s also part of our local surf lifesaving club. He’s like a regular bloke.” He asked the nurse what she thought of him. “Oh, he’s into sport and I don’t like sport, but I saw a picture of him in his bathers the other day and he looks very fit,” she said admiringly. St Vincent’s is in Malcolm Turnbull’s Wentworth electorate and I also live there. From the time Turnbull ran for Wentworth in 2004, I have heard him described, even by his supporters, as a narcissist, as an opportunist who is only in the Liberal Party for himself, and as his own worst enemy. This is why the conversation I overheard in the emergency ward made me realise that voters, far from thinking Abbott was merely the Mad Monk of caricature, were keeping an open mind about him. It made me think that there was a chance he could win the next election. All I knew of Abbott when he entered Parliament in 1994 at the age of 36 was that he had been educated by Jesuits, had wanted to be a priest and had described himself as “a junkyard dog savaging the other side”. It was only in early 1998 that I began to take serious notice of him, and that was because of a statement he made in Parliament about Bob Santamaria, who had recently died. Abbott called him “a philosophical star by which you could always steer” and “the greatest living Australian”. I thought that Santamaria had lost all political relevance decdes earlier and was astonished that anyone would honour a man who inspired so much hatred. It became clear that Santamaria had been a crucial mentor for Abbott, ever since the early 1970s. As Michael Duffy remarks in his 2004 dual biography of Mark Latham and Tony Abbott, Santamaria’s effect on the latter was “immediate and profound”. A Catholic intellectual, Santamaria created an organisation known as ‘the Movement’. Using the idea of 213 communist cadres, he had his followers infiltrate the unions to counteract their leftish ideology and to stop the spread of communism. He was president of the organisation from 1943 until 1957, when the Movement evolved into the National Civic Council. Even more insidious was his part in helping keep the Labor Party out of office throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He was a major influence in the formation of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) – a breakaway group of the ALP. He hoped to siphon the Catholics from the ALP into the DLP, and attract the anti-communist vote. There are people, like Abbott, who believe that Santamaria’s crusade against communism was a success. His major weapon was to create a climate of fear; he was constantly hectoring people with the idea that communists in Australia were buying up arsenals and guns in preparation for the revolution. Another tactic was to prophesy the end of civilisation as we know it. He likened Australia to the fifth century when the Roman Empire collapsed, and he viewed the Vietnam War as a crusade. Yet despite his anti-communism, he disliked capitalism, especially in its guise of economic rationalism. Santamaria’s ideal epoch was the Middle Ages and, as such, he wanted to turn us into a nation of farmers and cottage industries, with women permanently barefoot and pregnant. He vigorously opposed abortion and birth control. He blamed the Bloomsbury Set (Virginia Woolf and the like) for contemporary sexual decadence and the undermining of family values. As he became increasingly sidelined politically, his view of the world shrank to a hermetic and clammy chamber of religious and political certainties. Near the end of his 60-year career, he had doubts about liberal democracy, and in his wish to return to traditional Catholic values there was a touch of the theocratic Taliban about him. One of the reasons Santamaria was so loathed by many Catholics was that, by politicising religion, families were often riven apart. With the formation of the DLP came intimidation: if you stayed a supporter of the ALP then you were not a true Catholic. What disturbed many Catholics was that the priests would order their congregations to vote DLP. (I remember my mother returning from Mass one morning furious with the priest for telling the St Mark’s congregation to vote for the DLP.) Santamaria also confirmed all the suspicions the rest of Australia had about Catholics – that they were secretive and merely paid lip service to the idea of the separation of Church and State. 214 Abott has said that what impressed him about Santamaria was “the courage that kept him going as an advocate for unfashionable truths”. And indeed Santamaria was regarded as a has-been by the time young Abbott was attracted to him. The 1960s era of the young overturning traditional moral, social and sexual values arrived in Australia in the 1970s. Yet in 1972, at the age of 15, Abbott was drawn towards the DLP, despite the traditionalist party being in its death throes. While I might have been puzzled by his attitude towards Santamaria, in 1998 he made me realise that I couldn’t take his politics for granted. At the time Pauline Hanson’s populist One Nation party, which had been formed in 1997, was beginning to gain considerable electoral ground through racist rhetoric, and its attacks on gun laws, multiculturalism and economic rationalism. Despite her racially inflammatory comments, John Howard did not criticise Hanson or her party. He seemed morally paralysed, as if he agreed with much of what she had to say but also didn’t want to attack her for fear of alienating conservative voters. It was Abbott who realised that One Nation was “a conservative’s cry of rage and fear” that made “non-Anglo Australians feel like strangers in their own country”. But there was a bigger problem in that Hanson had the potential to divide the conservative vote. If Abbott had learned one thing from Santamaria’s undermining of the Labor Party and formation of the DLP, it was that such ideological splits were catastrophic for both parties. Without telling Howard, he launched a campaign against Hanson. Instead of ridiculing her like the media and the Labor Party did, he saw that the easiest way to destroy her influence was on technical grounds – her One Nation party was not validly registered for public funding. His actions were successful and he saw the campaign “as the most important thing I have done in politics”. It was this attack on One Nation that intrigued me: it seemed Abbott was driven by more complex and at times contradictory impulses than I had first thought. Abbott had a simple, happy childhood. Even he recognises that he came from a well-off, middle-class family and had privileges denied to many others. He was born in England and at the age of three came to Australia, where he was brought up on Sydney’s North Shore. It was until recently a very Anglo enclave of spacious suburban houses, families and, in the Abbotts’ case, swimming pools. His father was a dentist and his mother had a science degree. A former pilot who, much to his disappointment, never flew in the war, his father had wanted to be a priest and always 215 impressed on his son that it was better to be a good man than a successful one. There were four siblings, with Abbott the only boy. He was spoiled and, as one sister later remarked, “Tony was always the star”. His mother thought so highly of him that she predicted he would become either pope or prime minister. With this sort of parental adoration it was no wonder that Abbott was a loud-mouthed, attention-seeking boy who saw himself as always being in the right. His parents were gregarious and liked parties. This trait has served their extrovert son well. He was also studious and fond of books about great leaders and the glory of the British Empire, its Christian virtues and traditional institutions like Parliament. His first school was the Jesuits’ St Aloysius; his next school, St Ignatius, Riverview, on the lower North Shore, was also a Jesuit college. He was quickly attracted to the Jesuit fondness for intellectual argument – for observing issues from opposing sides. There was also a strongly athletic side to him and he did well in sports but, when he failed to play rugby for the school firsts, he could not conceive that it was because he wasn’t good enough – it must have been a conspiracy against him. This arrogance and sense of self-entitlement annoyed many of his peers. He found a mentor at Riverview in Father Emmet Costello, the chaplain, a worldly Jesuit from a wealthy background who was fascinated by politics. He knew many of the important political players and Abbott often sought him out. Like Santamaria, Costello saw politics as a vocation, a way of giving glory to God in the human realm. Indeed, by the time he went to Sydney University, Abbott was convinced that he had a bright future, perhaps in politics. His constant use of ‘mate’ or ‘fair dinkum’ made him seem more like a trade unionist than the usual Liberal supporter. His drinking, which would result in some minor acts of vandalism, and his ability at sport also seemed at odds with the stereotype of the socially cautious, nerdy young Liberal. He was never one to shy away from a stoush, and stated his opinions wherever he went. He gained a reputation for being a braggart, a blabbermouth and a larrikin. There were even rumours that he had been thrown out of a student house because of his propensity to walk around naked. In his second year at university, he had a girlfriend, whom he loved – and yet their relationship was an on-again, off-again affair because Abbott was strongly drawn towards the idea of becoming a priest. When she fell pregnant, Abbott knew he was too immature to help 216 raise the baby, and it was adopted. This decision was to haunt him for many decades. When he married, he told his wife, Margie, about it and, when they reached appropriate ages, his three daughters: Louise, Frances and Bridget. As far as he was concerned it was more than a young man’s mistake. He had sinned, and he did not marry the mother of his child, which was an abject dereliction of moral duty. As for his dream of entering the priesthood – at this time he felt he wasn’t morally strong enough and was spiritually unworthy. His escape clause was when, through the influence of Father Costello, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He arrived in a state of great excitement. Oxford, for Abbott, was the ultimate university. It was a bastion of tradition, educational achievement and the embodiment of all that was good about England. As he has often said, he is an “incorrigible Anglophile”. He flourished there, studying philosophy and politics, and immersing himself in the works of eighteenth-century conservative philosopher Edmund Burke. Commentators have overlooked Burke’s influence on Abbott, as they’ve attempted to find religious underpinnings to his ideas. Yet Burke’s theories embedded themselves deeply in Abbott’s mind. He took especial note of Burke’s notion that “We fear God, we look up with awe to kings: with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility”. He was also profoundly influenced by Burke’s idea that society is a “partnership” not only between those who are living, but “between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born”. Even now, as leader of the Opposition, these two ideas guide Abbott in the way he sees not only the responsibilities of politicians but also the responsibilities people must have towards their own communities. His dislike of what he perceives as laziness, welfare dependency, anti-social behaviour and loose morals derives from the idea that citizens thereby break this vital partnership; he sees it as his duty to restore it. While at Oxford, Abbott found another mentor in an American trainee Jesuit priest, Paul Mankowski, whom he calls the finest man he has ever met. Deeply religious and keeping to a vow of poverty, Mankowski wore the clothes of dead priests. He was intelligent and a boxer. He fully endorsed the idea that “a healthy body means a healthy mind”, which was not so much a strand of Irish Catholicism but its English and American forms. The notion of “muscular Christianity” was especially important for Catholics, who emphasised sexual 217 chastity before marriage and celibacy in priests. Physical activity was a way of finding a physical outlet for sexual frustration. Boxing is called the ultimate sport and no wonder. It is two men pitted against each other, with no protection other than their gloves and sometimes a helmet. It is a profound act of bravery to face an opponent who is out to hurt you and could possibly kill you. There is nowhere to hide, and any momentary act of perceived cowardice is magnified. Boxing is, however, more than just punching: one has to duck, weave, guard, counterattack, parry blows and, of course, conquer fear. Whenever Abbott entered the ring he was, as he once said, “terrified. It’s one of those things you make yourself do.” In his first bout – against Cambridge in March 1982 – he knocked out his opponent within the opening minute, and his three other fights were equally successful. He had little technique but a brutal sense of attack, which he called “the whirling dervisher”. When interviewed by the local press, it was obvious that Australian politics, and his role in it, wasn’t far from his mind. His third bout was decided before the end of round one and he bragged: “I just made believe that my opponent was Bob Hawke, the leader of Australian Labor Party.” His skill may have been limited but it didn’t matter; once the blood mist descended only the rules kept his savagery under control. Upon returning to Australia, Abbott didn’t hide his pride at what he had achieved academically and in sport. When I was recovering at St Vincent’s, a surgeon who had gone to Riverview told me he vividly remembered Abbott giving a talk to the school after his Oxford sojourn. I asked what he was like. “Oh, he preened,” said the surgeon. “No sense of humility at all. He just preened about his achievements.” No doubt one of the reasons for this was to show off his Oxford Blue to the sports masters who had rejected him. This inability to be humble is a debilitating feature of his personality, as he frequently acknowledges. Back in Australia Abbott made a decision that stunned his family. He wanted to become a priest. Although he went to Mass regularly, he never seemed so much a spiritual man as one whose faith was based on the traditional values of the Church. At the age of 26, he was much older than most of the men entering St Patrick’s seminary at Manly. No doubt Mankowski was a huge influence on the decision. 218 Yet instead of finding a form of Catholicism that featured social engagement, poverty and service to the community, he found himself surrounded by a strongly homosexual fraternity. A Catholic friend of mine who mixed with the St Patrick’s priests said, still with surprise in his voice, that they were “the most effeminate men I had ever seen. And this was when the Church unconditionally condemned homosexuality!” With this indulgent atmosphere came an emphasis on self-absorption. Abbott may have disliked homosexuality, but he agreed with Santamaria that “introspection is the first step towards insanity”. He was and is a man who likes being around other people and he’d sooner act than spend time contemplating his own navel. He regarded this aspect of Catholicism as solipsistic – and he also couldn’t hack celibacy. Like half of the young seminarians, he left before becoming a priest. In March 1987, at the age of 29, he found himself without prospects and not a little envious of friends who were now making serious money. He began to write for the Bulletin and the Australian, his articles being a way for him to work out his political philosophy and to clear his thoughts on the issues of the day. His writing style became simple and muscular with a deft ability to throw colloquial words into the mix without sounding patronising. He found a job as press secretary for John Hewson, the leader of the Opposition, but he was more attracted to John Howard, then shadow minister for industrial relations, employment and training. Their friendship continued throughout Howard’s time as prime minister, and Abbott continues to look up to him. But Howard was not very religious, and on spiritual matters Abbott turned to Cardinal Pell. Like all his mentors, from Santamaria onwards, he hero-worshipped him uncritically. To Abbott, Cardinal Pell is “one of the greatest churchmen that Australia has seen”. Pell is the type of Catholic Abbott likes – someone who excelled at sports, is not introspective and takes a close interest in politics. He is a divisive man who was at the centre of a controversy over his maladroit dealings with victims of sexual abuse by priests. Pell is intelligent but no intellectual (like Howard, in this sense), which suits Abbott. Pell’s articles, however, have none of Abbott’s clarity; they are frequently full of platitudes and non sequiturs as he rails against the “aggressive paganism” of contemporary society. Vegetarianism makes him uneasy and he loathes the Greens because they can cause thousands of people to lose their jobs when they set out to save “turtles who breathe through their bottoms”. As for climate change claims, they are “a symptom of pagan emptiness”. 219 Pell acts as Abbott’s personal confessor. But Abbott is very touchy about his close friendship with him, no doubt because Pell pushes hard, like Santamaria did, for Catholic intervention in politics. A few years ago, at a conscience vote overturning a state ban on therapeutic cloning, Pell announced: “Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realise that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the Church.” This was a thinly veiled threat of excommunication, running completely counter to secular values. Abbott’s conservative politics, his instinct to defer to authority and tradition, and his English Catholicism – with its position as a bulwark of tradition rather than a spiritual force – have been the bedrock of his beliefs since he was young. All of his mentors have opinions that have polarised the public, and they are all people who act upon rather than internalise any problem. They are thoughtful but not great thinkers. Above all, they regard the traditional institutions of marriage, family and community based on the principles of Christianity as essential for social cohesion. Abbott has often been criticised for bringing his religious convictions into the world of politics. And although he has strenuously denied this, he has also said that: “A minister of the crown is scarcely supposed to abandon his principles simply because he is a minister of the crown. You don’t become an ethical-free zone just because you are a minister.” The institution that has made him, the Catholic Church, has also shaped his principles, so that he finds it difficult to disentangle his religious convictions from his political agenda. Like all his mentors he loathes abortion, IVF, the morning-after pill and RU486. He sees abortion as a national tragedy, as he does no-fault divorce. He questioned whether Medicare should be funding 75,000 abortions a year and he tried to restrict RU486. He also opposes stem-cell research and gay marriage. Throughout his life, Abbott has needed the Church and its teachings, sometimes to a desperate degree, because he realises that without it he would be morally and even psychologically lost. He knows he has personal demons to quell. Between his belfry-bat ears is a coil of such saturnine weirdness that no one, not even his closest friends, would want to unravel it. This makes him do things he comes to regret. His wife, Margie, knows this. In 2005 when she heard that John Brogden had resigned as NSW Opposition leader, after being found in his office with self-inflicted wounds, she told her husband, “Whatever happens, don’t you say anything about it.” The next day, Abbott, then health minister, joked about 220 Brogden’s actions in relation to a change to a Liberal policy: “If we did that, we would be as dead as the former Liberal leader’s political prospects.” Abbott’s response to the subsequent outcry was, “Look, I’ve never claimed to be the world’s most sensitive person.” And he is right. When dying asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton, suffering from terminal cancer, tried to deliver a petition to Abbott’s electorate office in Manly, Abbott, who wasn’t there, called Banton “gutless”, the event “a stunt” and remarked that “just because a person is sick doesn’t mean that he is necessarily pure at heart in all things”. Rudd may use swear words to his staff and flight attendants but Abbott takes it into the public arena, one time snapping back “Bullshit” at Labor opponent Nicola Roxon, in response to her comment that he could have been on time for a nationally televised debate, and referring to Julia Gillard as having a “shit-eating grin”. He just can’t stop himself. His excitement and adrenaline get the better of him. He always offers a mea culpa and confesses his weakness, but that impulsiveness is hard for him to control. He is a naturally exuberant man. A photographer friend who has shot him several times remarked to me that Abbott had “an adolescent’s energy”. Journalists have called his obsessive cycling and gym-going “self- flagellation”, but it’s more subtle than that. The body is a source of energy that equals that of the will. If he can will his body to overcome its limitations, then he can train his mind to do the same thing. Abbott also has many attractive characteristics. He does truly listen to people, as the patient in emergency remarked on; even Pro Choice’s NSW spokeswoman, Jane Caro, conceded: “On a personal level, I like Tony Abbott, having found him to be a respectful, intelligent, humorous and civil opponent whenever we debated the issues.” He’s a brave man. When he was at university he rescued a boy from drowning, and another time he helped rescue some children from a burning house. On neither occasion did he big-note himself. He is a lifesaver and he fights bushfires. He is honest in public about his failings and he is immensely loyal. When he discovered that he was not the father of the baby that was adopted, he was gracious in his disappointment and forgiving towards the woman who had wrongly identified him as the father. He forgives and forgets. He may act goofy around women occasionally, but he’s capable of self-mockery, as when he repeats one of his daughters’ descriptions of him as “a gay, lame churchie loser”. He also tries to be as straightforward and clear as possible, which 221 will become a virtue given that his opponent, Kevin Rudd, seems like a hologram that hasn’t been taught proper English. In December last year, when he became leader of the Opposition, Paul Howes, the national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, labelled him a zealot; MP Greg Combet called him an extremist; Robert Manne called him a troglodyte. But Abbott is much more complicated than those labels suggest. His defeat of the ETS prompted Julia Gillard to call him a denier, a particularly pernicious tag given that it alludes to the Holocaust. But Abbott did tap into a large group of Australians who didn’t understand the ETS and, because they didn’t and were scared of paying higher taxes and losing their jobs, were derided by their own government. He is astute and thoughtful enough to realise conservatives have to embrace the diversity of contemporary Australian society. He also knows that he cannot be seen as extreme, as he has been portrayed. He will try to get to the middle ground, at the same time taking the lower socio-economic groups with him. His idea of the Commonwealth taking over the funding of hospitals will appeal to many who have found themselves caught up in the hospital system, as I was. His Achilles heel will be economics, at which he has shown no expertise, and it is there that the Labor government will trounce him. It remains, however, that his greatest weakness is himself. He is as complicated a man as Keating, and that’s a problem. Voters like their prime ministers to be simple and pragmatic, and with no personal agenda. Keating was lucky in that the baton was passed on to him while in government. If he had been in Opposition, in all likelihood he would not have been elected PM. Abbott’s continuing struggle since he was young has been to balance his conservatism with his impetuous actions. He has tried to remain true to his 15-year-old self in a time of fast-changing social mores and morals. The tension between his religious beliefs and his political life will remain challenging to navigate. He also has to fight his natural tendency to hero-worship in order to become his own man. Since he was young he has dreamt of himself becoming a hero. But if he did become prime minister, he would view it as an honour beyond himself. It would confirm his ideal that politics is the highest and noblest form of public service. His great political flaw is like that of his boxing, when he defeated his opponents with his whirling dervish attacks on them. If his opponents had had better defence, they would have avoided his initial attacks, let him become exhausted and then picked him off, slowly and 222 relentlessly. Abbott places everything on attack and as such leaves himself wide open to dying a death of a thousand cuts. In all likelihood his term as leader will end in either tears or farce. His value may lie in the way he defines the Liberals as a true conservative party. Is it possible that he could win the next election? Stranger things have happened. Certainly he has more charm, humour and common appeal than Rudd, who seems merely a willy-willy of spin. But would Abbott make a good prime minister? In wartime he would be excellent because then issues are so clear-cut, but in our present society the tension between his traditional values, formulated by both Catholicism and thinkers like Burke, and society’s insatiable need for change would be a constantly tense balancing act for him. But, whatever happens, his elevation to leader of the Opposition has given the voters a real choice between the two parties and 2010 should prove a fascinating, even tumultuous lead-up to the next election. Abbott has won the ETS battle for the moment. I hear the bell ringing for the start of round two. About the authorLouis Nowra Louis Nowra is an author, screenwriter and playwright. His books include Ice and The Twelfth of Never, and he is co-winner of the 2009 NSW Premier’s Script Writing Award for First Australians. Tony Abbott Shadow Minister for Community Services; Author, Battlelines Tony Abbott is renowned as a pugnacious and committed politician and this month joined the ranks of parliamentary authors with the publication of his book Battlelines. Described as a conservative manifesto, it maintained Tony’s reputation for controversy by offering contentious policy options and outlining the values he thought the Liberal Party should represent. The book charts a future for the Liberals after the 2007 election defeat and offers an insider’s view of the Howard government. 223 Tony was born in London in November 1957 of Australian parents who moved back to Sydney in 1960. He graduated from Sydney University with degrees in law and economics, then achieved an MA and two blues in boxing as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Since his student days Tony has been involved in right-wing politics and socially conservative causes linked to his Catholic faith. He once considered becoming a priest but changed his mind. After working as a journalist, a press secretary for Liberal leader John Hewson and as Executive Director of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, he became the Liberal member for Warringah, on Sydney’s northern beaches, in a by-election in March 1994. Tony joined the Howard government’s front bench after the 1998 election and for the next ten years served in a range of portfolios including Employment Services, Workplace Relations and Health. In Opposition he has been shadow minister for families, community services and indigenous affairs, and has not ruled out one day standing for the leadership. Tony is well-known for his public campaigns against such things as abortion, stem cell research and an Australian republic. He also participates each year in the marathon Pollie Pedal bike ride to raise funds for medical research. Tony, his wife Margaret and their three daughters live in the northern Sydney suburb of Forestville. Tony Abbott: Battlelines | ABC Fora | 7 August 2009 "Tony Abbott has just launched his book 'Battlelines', which offers a range of policy ideas for the coalition to consider in time for the next election. Many political observers say its release is a signal that Mr Abbott is positioning for his own run at the Liberal leadership. Here at the National Press Club in Canberra, he offers his thoughts on solutions to the declining birth- rate and aging population, and unveils some of his policy visions, including his analysis of approaches to health and education policy." Listen to audio or watch video of the report. Tony Abbott launches Battlelines book | Radio National Breakfast | 28 July 2009 "He's less popular in the polls than Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull, but that hasn't stopped Tony Abbott from putting his thoughts together on the way forward for the Liberal party in a 224 new book. It's called Battlelines, and while he may only be the Opposition spokesman on families, housing and community services, his book is being promoted as 'the essential manifesto for the thinking Liberal'." Listen to audio of the report. No place for noble savages | The Australian | 8 May 2009 "AT some point in the early 1970s, official policy towards Aboriginal people shifted from integration and assimilation to self-determination. It reflected guilt about their dispossession and embarrassment at the destruction of their culture." An article by Tony Abbott. Not for Adam and Steve | Unleashed | 9 May 2008 Read Tony Abbott's comments about gay marriage. Tony Abbott | Sunday Profile | 12 June 2005 "Tony Abbott, Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, talks about the impact of the Daniel O'Connor story on him, his family and his wife; how he tries to keep his religious beliefs separate from his politics and why he believes the Australian voter wouldn't have any trouble electing a devoutly religious person,somebody not unlike himself, to high office." Read a transcript or listen to audio of Monica Attard's interview with Tony Abbott. [Audio| Transcript] The Rise and Rise of Tony Abbott | Sunday | 15 July 2001 "Tony Abbott does not pull any punches, whether in the ring or on the hustings. The former pugilist is probably Australia's most controversial politician; he's not afraid to say what he thinks — an unusual trait in a member of parliament." Read a transcript of John Lyons' report. Parliament of Australia website View Tony Abbott's parliamentary profile. Tony Abbott's website View information about Tony and his electorate. Tony Abbott on Q&A 225 >>21 May 2009 >>19 March 2009 >>18 September 2008 >>29 May 2008 TONY ABBOTT. ONE. LAST. PUNCH. By Wendy Harmer General, Harmer's Hoopla, Must see, News and Opinion August 24, 2013 1662 0 155 Well, this just about takes the biscuit. Tony Abbott says that it is Julia Gillard and her “crude political headbanging” who has lowered the tone of debate in this country. ”Both sides are guilty but I think that as prime minister Gillard was particularly bad at it,” he said in Fairfax today. Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard had driven an ”over-the-top” campaign to damage his reputation. She had maligned him. I appeal to the umpire… HOWZAT!? This from a man who stood in front of a poster that read “Ditch the Witch”. Who stood silent as Ms. Gillard’s honour was sullied by the most outrageous slurs. A man who didn’t ever utter a peep as the Prime Minister of this country was derided as barren, frumpy, ugly… who ought to be put in a chaff bag or kicked to death. I’m gobsmacked at this latest effort in resuming his attacks on a former Prime Minister who was so gracious in defeat. 226 As a former boxer I suppose Tony Abbott can’t resist throwing one last punchdrunk, swinging haymaker even as his former opponent is sitting in the dressing room having her wounds attended to. Recently on Radio National’s Sunday Extra programme I spoke of Tony Abbott as being personable and friendly when you met him in the flesh. I was prepared to give his maligned character the benefit of the doubt. I take it back. I was naïve. Abbott says his portrayal by Ms. Gillard as a misogynist was “invalid and unfair”. ”You go into this business and you’ve got to take your lumps, but at times I certainly thought that the then prime minister went right over the top,” he said. Except he hasn’t “taken his lumps”… you can still see the bruising and swelling. That little woman Gillard obviously hit him right where it hurts. Putting the heated argument of sexism aside – and it seems that doesn’t play well in the electorate – I accuse Tony Abbott of something more heinous that perhaps Aussie voters will understand. It’s unsportsmanlike, Tony. You’re the victor. Take it on the chin. You’re a sexist. Julia is a man-hater. You won! Go you!! In saying the accusations against you were “invalid and unfair” you’re saying that even though you prevailed… it should have been by a bigger margin. Just whose reputation has been more damaged in this bare knuckle brawl? I’d suggest it’s Julia Gillard’s. You’re still standing, mate. Take it as a glorious triumph. The glittering prize is within reach. I detest a bad sport. Even more, I loathe a bully boy who can’t resist going back for One. Last. Punch. 227 RELATED ARTICLES The Anatomy of a Prime Minister Small breasts, huge thighs: PM on the Menu When MSM fails you. Take out an ad Julia Gillard: A Woman Who Dared to Lead -------- Original Message -------- SubjeTony Abbott's speaking engagements deserve our scrutiny, and our ct: concern,Jason Wilson,Jason Wilson, 27.01.16 Date:Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:30:08 +1100 From:George Venturini <[email protected]> To: [email protected] Tony Abbott's speaking engagements deserve our scrutiny, and our concern Jason Wilson The organisation that Tony Abbott will address this week is focused on resisting the advance of LGBT rights. The increasingly global nature of the Christian right should give us pause for thought ‘The organisation Tony Abbott is speaking to – the Alliance Defending Freedom – is a pillar of the US Christian right.’ Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP 228 Contact author @jason_a_w Wednesday 27 January 2016 16.04 AEDT Last modified on Thursday 28 January 2016 08.53 AEDT Tony Abbott spent Australia Day travelling to the United States for a speaking engagement. The occasion is private, but it should be a matter of public concern. Especially in the wake of his decision to remain in politics, the event should raise some questions about the increasingly international ambitions of the Christian right, and its connections with the right wing of the Liberal party. The organisation Abbott is speaking to – the Alliance Defending Freedom – is a pillar of the US Christian right. It’s the legal arm of Christian right behemoth Focus on the Family, has a budget of $40m, and is currently focused on waging a broad legal battle in the wake of some key supreme court rulings. How Tony Abbott's US hosts fought to stop abortion and marriage equality Alliance Defending Freedom uses litigation to support those accused of discriminating against people on basis of sexual orientation Read more These include their victory in the Hobby Lobby ruling, which recognised corporations as having religious rights, and their defeat in Obergefell v. Hodges, which granted same sex couples the right to marry in all US states. The Alliance Defending Freedom employs 50 lawyers and is networked with thousands more who cooperate on state and federal litigation intended to stonewall the expansion of civil rights for those whom evangelical protestants consider to be living against God’s law. 229 One strategy they advise on is what Frederick Clarkson, senior fellow at Political Research Associates calls “religification”. Groups like ADF have issued handbooks that instruct organisations such as churches, schools, universities and hospitals, how to redefine all of their jobs and functions as essentially religious in nature, so that they can be wholly exempted from discrimination provisions in the Civil Rights Act under the “ministerial exception”. When successful, this allows them and their employees to discriminate against job applicants, and even clients, who are LGBT, or with whom they simply have a religious disagreement. Advertisement <="" iframe="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="300" height="250">&lt;/div&gt; &lt;/div&gt; &lt;p&gt;In the face of rapid and seemingly unstoppable social change around issues of sexuality, this essentially defensive strategy allows Christian organisations to retain bastions of control where their identities and practices can be protected. &lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Assisting fellow conservatives to resist the advance of gay rights is the ADF&amp;#8217;s top priority, and Abbott is visiting them at the same time that the Liberal party is conducting a civil war over same sex marriage. &lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;In the Australian context, prominent conservatives like &lt;a class=" u-underline" href=<a class="moz-txt- link-rfc2396E" href="http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jan/27/eric-abetz- coalition-mps-will-not-be-bound-by-plebiscite-on-marriage- equality">"http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jan/27/eric-abetz-coalition-mps- will-not-be-bound-by-plebiscite-on-marriage-equality"</a> data-link-name="in body link" data-component="in-body-link"&gt;Eric Abetz are running a similar, defensive, delaying political strategy&lt;/a&gt; in the face of broad community support for marriage equality .&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Abbott himself, when prime minister, similarly stonewalled on this issue. &lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Speaking to me by phone, Clarkson conceded that the closed-door nature of the meeting &amp;#8211; which has not been advertised on ADF&amp;#8217;s site &amp;#8211; made it difficult to know what was happening. But it may not just be an after-dinner speech. &lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&amp;#8220;There could actually be some strategic thinking going on. What kinds of contacts does the ADF have in Australia, and how can Abbott tap into them?&amp;#8221; &lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;In any case, it&amp;#8217;s a networking opportunity, where an increasingly internationally-focused US Christian right and a leader of Australian social conservatives can exchange views, and perhaps resources. 230 &lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Apart from employing lawyers, the ADF also trains them. Its Blackstone Legal Fellowships ground lawyers in political and legal doctrine that goes far beyond what Australians would view as mainstream conservatism. In the past, the Fellowship’s curriculum has included the work of so-called Christian Reconstructionists. This movement holds that society should be governed according to Old Testament law, and its founder, Rousas Rushdoony, referred to democracy as a “heresy”. Overtly theocratic, Reconstructionism has also been referred to as “a new form of clerical fascist politics” by Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons, who wrote Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. Reconstructionism, and other elements of the conservative evangelical protestantism – which is the main driver of ADF’s world view – are theologically very different to Abbott’s conservative Catholicism. But in recent years, shared political commitments – including an opposition to abortion and marriage equality – have seen evangelicals and rightwing Catholics in the US making common cause. “One of the trends within the United States and these organisations is a commingling – the development of a profound religious and political relationship between conservative Catholics and conservative evangelicals,” says Clarkson. Despite a history of sectarian conflict not dissimilar to Australia’s, not to mention over half a millennium of doctrinal divergence, Catholics and evangelicals have been cooperating in the US to forestall further developments in the civil rights agenda. Eric Abetz: Coalition MPs will not be bound by plebiscite on marriage equality Conservative senator says MPs entitled to make up their own minds and vote accordingly even if the $160m plebiscite determines Australians are in favour Read more For example, another “religious liberty” law firm, the Becket Fund, dominated by conservative Roman Catholics, successfully litigated the Hobby Lobby case, and has also represented clients at the European court of human rights. 231 A big moment in the US was 2009’s so-called Manhattan Declaration, initially signed by 150 religious leaders, with the number of signatories growing over time. The declaration made comparisons between pro-choice arguments and Nazi theories of eugenics, and raised the possibility of civil disobedience from Christians in the face of developments in abortion and LGBT rights. To date, more than 50 American Catholic archbishops and bishops have added their names to a list of religious leaders which includes prominent rightwing activists and evangelical pastors. As Clarkson puts it, this recent political cooperation on the faith-based right “is one of the most extraordinary developments in the modern history of Christianity”. And it is of international import. Increasingly, important decisions about civil rights are made in international courts. Civil rights victories or defeats in one nation can influence popular opinion and even legal deliberation in another. Some journalists have seemed to suggest that there’s no reason to object to Abbott’s visit – that’s it’s just a matter of free speech. But the building of alliances among religious conservatives is always worth attention and scrutiny, especially when it involves prominent Australian members of parliament who may still have an influence on policy. -------- Original Message -------- SubjePerceptions of corruption in Australian government and public sector ct: increase,,Result puts Australia 13th globally for perceived openness, the country’s equal lowest ranking in 20-year history of Transparency International index , 27.01.16 Date:Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:31:43 +1100 From:George Venturini <[email protected]> To: [email protected] 232 Perceptions of corruption in Australian government and public sector increase Result puts Australia 13th globally for perceived openness, the country’s equal lowest ranking in 20-year history of Transparency International index Perceptions of corruption in the Australian government increased in 2015 for the fourth year running, surging six points since 2012. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images Michael Safi @safimichael Wednesday 27 January 2016 15.33 AEDT Last modified on Wednesday 27 January 2016 15.35 AEDT Perceptions of corruption in the Australian government and public sector increased in 2015 for the fourth year running, surging six points since 2012 in an annual index by Transparency International. A federal anti-corruption agency, muscular anti-foreign bribery laws and political donations reform were required to help arrest the slide, senior members of the anti-corruption group said. 233 The result put Australia in 13th place globally for perceived openness, the country’s equal lowest ranking in the 20-year history of the report. AWB made secret payments worth US$220m to Saddam's Iraq, court hears Two former AWB executives are facing a civil trial for allegedly inflating wheat supply contracts and making secret payments to the Saddam Hussein regime Read more Comparable democracies such as the UK, the US and New Zealand have held steady or improved their index scores in the past four years. The annual index, which ranks 168 countries on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), is compiled from 12 surveys of transparency experts and business people. Australia’s 2015 score was 79, down from 80 last year. Denmark came in first with 91, followed by Finland (90), New Zealand (88) and the Netherlands (87). North Korea and Somalia ranked last with eight points each. Brazil suffered the biggest fall, dropping five index points amid a bribery and money- laundering scandal engulfing its state-owned oil company, Petrobras, that has drawn in some of the country’s most senior politicians. Libya, Spain and Turkey were singled out with Australia as “big decliners”, with Greece, Senegal and the UK praised for their progress. The chair of Transparency International Australia, Anthony Wheatley QC, said Australia’s score was “the result of inaction from successive governments who have failed to address weaknesses in Australia’s laws and legal processes”. Brazil's anti-corruption prosecutor: graft is 'endemic. It has spread like cancer' 234 Deltan Dallagnol, 31, is leading an investigation that has so far charged more than 70 politicians, lobbyists and industrialists, overturning decades of impunity Read more Foreign bribery scandals such as those involving the Australian Wheat Board and Securency had damaged Australia’s reputation and legislation introduced into parliament in December was “long overdue”, he said. The group also called for a federal anti-corruption agency with similar powers to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption; a nationally consistent and tighter political donations disclosure regime; and safeguards against dirty money from overseas bleeding into the Australian finance or real estate industries. Wheatley said addressing weaknesses in government would also raise the bar for the private sector. The Turnbull government “seems to be taking steps that look very encouraging”, he said. More news Topics  Australian political donations  Australian politics  Australian political interests disclosures  Corruption index and barometer  Independent Commission Against Corruption For full 235 -------- Original Message -------- SubjeFwd: The characteristics of Fascism and how we might note its presence ct: today,, April 4, 2014, Written by: The AIM Network Date:Mon, 02 Feb 2015 16:10:59 +1100 From:George Venturini <[email protected]> To: [email protected] -------- Original Message -------- SubjeThe characteristics of Fascism and how we might note its presence today,, ct: April 4, 2014, Written by: The AIM Network Date:Mon, 02 Feb 2015 15:31:16 +1100 From:George Venturini <[email protected]> To: [email protected] The characteristics of Fascism and how we might note its presence today  April 4, 2014  Written by: The AIM Network  46 Replies  Category: Politics  permalink  Tagged under: Abbott Government, Cory Bernardi, fascism, Indigenous Australians, Lawrence Britt, The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism 236  The AIM Network Is fascism creeping into Australia? There are clearly no Fascist regimes in Australia, or any regime with even the slightest of Fascist agendas. We’re a luckier country than that. Broadly speaking, Fascism is: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. This clearly does not exist in Australia. But as this guest post by Paul Cannon disturbingly points out, the ‘rhetoric and behaviour’ of the current federal government (and state governments) could easily have us believe otherwise. Does it matter if democracy shifts to the right? That depends on where you stand politically. But if the shift is extreme then I think it is of grave concern. And what concerns me even more is the tendency to ignore the shift. If you don’t look closely you never really notice it or generally laugh it off. The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism by the author Lawrence Britt, originally published in Free Inquiry Magazine Vol. 23, No. 2, Spring, 2003 are worth noting in regard to current politics in the west These fourteen points are similar but not the same as those published by the author Umberto Eco in 1995, which are also worth reading. Image from sodahead.com 237 Of course, immediately some of you have retreated, because every time the issue of Fascism comes up it is considered passé or too sensational (you can’t say that!) or irrelevant (don’t be ridiculous that was then) and therefore such a comparison to today should not be used. But I believe we hide our heads in the sand when we ignore the trend, even when it is a niche or even isolated elements showing up. Fascism wasn’t closed off in 1945, indeed it continued in Latin America, Spain and Portugal, and periodically in Italy long after the war. It shows up in mass movements across Europe like the British Defence Force, the National Front, and recently UKIP, to use England as just one example. In defining fascism one should avoid Hollywood movies as signifiers of what Fascism actually is and what it looks like. For Fascism to exist today, it cannot be as it was, we have to look for the essence in what is happening now and to ask – what clothes is it wearing? I am not looking to review Fascism historically, or to dwell on the symptoms of historical Fascism but rather to look at the structure of Fascism and what might be happening now. Fascism is not by definition totalitarian, it can use that form of governing, but it can be present in democracy. So let’s not be fooled by trying to say its nothing like 1920, or 1933 that is merely a smokescreen. Fascism developed in Italy. The term Fascism derives from ‘fasces’ the Roman symbol of collectivism and power (a tied bundle of rods with a protruding axe). The Italians also had a description for the concept of Fascism, Benito Mussolini stated that Fascism was ‘estato corporativo’ which means the corporate state (a view also promoted by Othmar Spann in Austria). Fascism is a pretence or veneer of “socialism” or collectivism controlled by capitalism which is in partnership with government (much the same as National Socialism in Germany). Lawrence Britt studied the National Socialist regime of Germany (Hitler), the Kingdom of Italy (Mussolini), Nationalist or Francoist Spain (Franco), the Military Government Junta of Chile (Pinochet) and other Latin American regimes (Argentina, Paraguay, El Salvador, Brazil), and New Order in Indonesia (Suharto). What Britt found was fourteen defining characteristics as follows: 238 1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. 2. Disdain for the recognition of human rights: because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerationsof prisoners, etc. 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: the people are rallied into a unifying Patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. 4. Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service is glamourised. 5. Rampant Sexism: the governments of fascist nations tend be almost exclusively male dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution. 6. Controlled Mass Media: sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. 7. Obsession with National Security: fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. 8. Religion and Government are Intertwined: governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. 239 9. Corporate Power is Protected: the industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. 10. Labour Power is Suppressed: because the organising power of labour is the only real threat to a fascist government, labour unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. 11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. 12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment: under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. 13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. 14. Fraudulent Elections: sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. In relation to Australia we can immediately rule out 1 (although even here there is the false mantra that refugees are illegal) 11, 13, and 14. And with 4, 6, and 8 there are identifiable elements but not the whole. 240 But the rest 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12, half, are certainly present in the current federal government rhetoric and behaviour. And if you add elements of 4, 6 and 8, there is a strong shift to the right with a sense of an essence of fascism pervading. In the current federal government there is: – a complete disdain for human rights (treatment of indigenous communities, gay people, people who need welfare support payments, disability pensioners, refugees); – they have manipulated the population by identifying an enemy and scapegoats (“terrorists”, Muslims, refugees); – the military is not supreme but it is being utilised for civilian purposes, therefore it has been elevated (customs and border control, the indigenous intervention); there is sexism (as demonstrated by Abbott, Pyne and Bernadi among others), and to add – Umberto Eco writes that fascism thrives on creating fear over difference; – there is a sense of control by cronyism with media, and there is censorship in regard to the refugees coming by boat; – there is an obsession (pathological) with national security; – religion is not intertwined but members of the government use their religious affiliation as a bargaining point and they use religious rhetoric to push agendas (Bernadi on the traditional family – whatever that was or is); – corporate power is definitely protected, even exclusively with environmental considerations, workers rights, and community needs overlooked; – the corollary is that labour power is suppressed by legislative means; – there is an unmitigated obsession with crime and punishment (this would be more true of State rather than Federal government but it is present in both). Umberto Eco makes the point that the very first appeal of a fascist movement is the appeal against the intruders (find a scapegoat and you control a large portion of the voting public). So is Australia Fascist, well no, not in the historical sense of 1920 or 1933, but there is an alarming trend towards fascist methodology (whether overtly or otherwise) and there is a trend towards corporate control, which is a move away from the rights of groups and individuals, and there is a disregard for our international treaty obligations. The government clearly uses manipulation of the population as to be judged by the government rhetoric that is parroted back on talk back radio by the public often couched in fear ( the refugees would be 241 the clear issue here). There is a disdain for the environment too. And in the proposed education review there is a desire by the education minister to go back in time in terms of how we present contemporary history, labour history, indigenous history, international history (it was Herman Goerring who liked the phrase “when I hear the word culture I reach for my gun”). The fourteen points demonstrate that what is at stake is freedom, language, history, culture, national identity, and human rights. Fascism is an attitude, albeit a political one, but one that pervades the way governments think and behave. With seven of the fourteen points by Britt recognisable in current government action and rhetoric there should be more concern in the community about our identity as a nation and therefore our future as a nation. Umberto Eco puts it well when he says “Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plain clothes.” Bibliography: Giorgio Agamben. ‘Homo Sacer Sovereign Power and Bare Life’ California, Stanford, 1998 Giorgio Agamben. ‘State of Exception’ Chicago, Chicago Press, 2005 Hanna Arendt ‘The Origins Of Totalitarianism’ Florida, Harcourt, 1968 Umberto Eco. ‘Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt’ New York Review of Books, 1995, pp. 12 – 15. Roger Griffin. ‘The Nature of Fascism’ Oxon, Routledge, 1993 This article was first published on Paul’s blog Parallax and reproduced with permission. -------- Original Message -------- SubjeWhat if Abbott and his cronies are just a bunch of psychopaths?,Lyn ct: Bender 13 May 2014, 1:30pm 27,316 245 Date:Mon, 02 Feb 2015 16:05:27 +1100 From:George Venturini <[email protected]> To: [email protected] 242 What if Abbott and his cronies are just a bunch of psychopaths? Lyn Bender 13 May 2014, 1:30pm 27,316 245 HealthPolitics Share on facebook37 Share on twitter13 Share on linkedin5 Share on reddit0 Share on google_plusone_share Share on email More Sharing Services The latest revelations about the Abbott Government have led psychologist Lyn Bender to wonder: is Prime Minister Tony Abbott incapable of human feeling? THE psychopath may be smart even highly intelligent, but lacks empathy and is a chronic manipulator. He is morally bankrupt due to this lack of empathy and narcissism. What he doesn’t feel, he mimics to further his own ends. The psychopath or sociopath is careless of others feelings, exhibits no guilt or remorse, lies compulsively and acts impulsively with little regard for the consequences of those actions. Grandiosity inflates a sense of getting away with anything. The focus is never on reparation — but on escaping any responsibility for the harm inflicted on others. The drive is essentially narcissistic, even if it is paraded as altruistic. The psychopath may become enraged at accusations, and aggressive and defensive, even if those accusations are grounded in fact. Behaviours and responses that appear to contradict the lack of empathy are, in fact, part of manipulating others to further the psychopath’s own ends. The actions are thoroughly Machiavellian with the end justifying the means — but the ends are narcissistically focused. Sound like anyone you know? 243 The latest revelations about the Abbott Government's manipulation, deceit and lies have led me to wonder: is Prime Minister Abbott incapable of human feeling? Previously I have asked questions in IA about Abbott and his team — concerning idiocy, insincerity, and being a headless chook. The latest revelations − I mean allegations − of blatant lies regarding the Government have led me to confront, a profoundly serious fear — a scarily looming terror. No, it’s not the Joe Hockey fictional budget crisis. What is keeping me awake at night is the following nagging thought: "What if Prime Minister Tony Abbott just a psychopath?" Surrounding himself with like-minded ministers advisors and old cronies, Abbott is forging his way towards his version of a small government free market quasi neo conservative nirvana. A brave new land where the poor are punished for being poor, the disabled are abandoned, universal education and health care is degraded and the old and poor are denied health care in the hope that they will work until death, at seventy. Currently, that is still mostly the inglorious dream of those espousing the perverted right wing agenda of the denialist propaganda think tank the IPA – the Institute of Public Affairs – and Abbott's handpicked Commission of Audit. Indeed, while Tony Abbott avoids the ABC like the plague, he is most comfortable in the company of friends. Watch here as he addresses the IPA on freedom of speech — to great applause. Also, see here Abbott invoke the freedom of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, declaring goals: "So, ladies and gentlemen, that is a big fat yes to many of the 75 areas of policy you – the IPA – urged upon me." 244 Indeed, as I write this, Abbott is working to implement his agenda. Here the IPA's goals are shamelessly enunciated by research fellow with the IPA — Chris Berg. They include repeal of measures and bodies to combat climate change and the breaking up and sale of those vile socialists, the ABC and SBS: 50. Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function 51. Privatise SBS As we know, there is too much free speech and left wing science on the ABC, and Abbott has attacked it for: "... not being enough on the side of the home team." The unpatriotic ABC also reported on those asylum seeker abuse allegations — of having their hands burned by the Australian Navy. The ABC should never have reported them, in Liberal Party world, since they were vigorously denied by Morrison and Abbott. And that should be enough. The ongoing menace to the ABC in threats to its funding has sent a visible shiver through many programs. Q&A has been cowed and Lateline last night had two members of the lunar right discussing the Budget to Dorothy Dixers from Emma Alberici. Says all you need to know. But is this just a bumbling rookie government with a fixation on becoming a replica of the American Tea Party movement? Or is there evidence that Abbott and his cronies are running a psychopathic government? In my view, there is no question. Consider the evidence: 245 1. Tony Abbott is a compulsive liar I could write many additional pages about of Abbott's lies and middeeds, but these have been well documented in the Alan Austin's IA trilogy: Is Australia run by compulsive liars: Parts One, Two and Three — links to all three pieces here. 2. Lack of empathy and compassion Tony Abbott as health minister shunned the dying asbestos cancer sufferer Bernie Banton calling his attempt to deliver a petition − on behalf of fellow sufferers − a stunt. Watch here to view a complete lack of remorse and concern for his callous statements. In giving a speech on forced adoption apology day. Abbott talks of birth parents, including fathers, who have always loved their children. Watch here as he continues on speaking while ignoring the loud and indignant protests of women in the audience, who had been forced to adopt their children and abandoned by the fathers of their children. On homelessness, as a ‘lifestyle choice’, and the poor will always be with us. Watch here Responding here to the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan, after being told better support and resources might have saved him: "Well, you know, shit happens." 3. On Tony doing whatever it takes Pre-election, Tony embarked on an image makeover, intent on being reinvented as non-sexist and non homophobic. He enlisted the help of his family. Can you spot the shallow imitation of transformation and the disingenuous responses, here during this 60 Minutes interview with Liz Hayes? Tony Windsor is renowned for his integrity and stated in parliament that Tony Abbott: "... begged for the job and said he would do anything, anything at all, to become prime minister, except sell his arse — but he'd consider it." 246 Former PM Malcolm Fraser has said: "Tony Abbott is capable of changing his mind on important policy. He tells us he doesn’t always say what he means. Tony Abbott would say whatever he felt he had to, in order to attain power." Here is Tony Abbott denying climate change in 2008, or is he. He laughs and grins: "...this is the most important moral issue of our time, I mean it is isn’t it?" And here is Tony at his most duplicitous, lying to Australias Indigenous people to gain their trust and the electoral approbation that would come with it by deceitfully saying he would spend his first week as prime minister – if elected – with the Aboriginal people of Eastern Arnhem Land. He lied. It has been seven months and he hasn't been seen by the Yolngu People — except on TV. Here,Abbott lies about this in Parliament. Abbott said in 2010 on Lateline that he took the view of Australia Day that, while some Indigenous people regarded it as Invasion Day, they have much to celebrate in Australia’s British culture. Not much empathy or respect there. Abbot can’t hear, understand, or empathise with the voices expressing the suffering of aboriginal people as whites celebrate Australia Day. 4. Abbott completely disregards the well being of future generations Former Prime Minister Paul Keating derides Abbott as failing to adopt carbon pricing. According to Keating, Abbott's modus operandi is: "If you don’t give me the job, I’ll wreck the joint!" 247 Abbott's cronies But we should not ignore those who Abbott has gathered around him and those who are reflecting his psychopathology. But it is not just about wrecking the joint; Abbott has beside him cronies who are implementing policy that is downright sociopathic in its intent. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, who could be dubbed the minister without a heart, administers the illegal murderous Abbott ‘stop the boats’ policy, which has been criticised by the UN. Amnesty International has also critiqued, as inhumane, offshore processing under Operation Sovereign Borders (OPS) — soon to become Border Force. The policy now has international fame − or rather infamy − for its violation of human rights. Under it, Morrison, on behalf of Abbott, has just pushed another boat back to Indonesia, reportedly adding − as though they were not actually humans − three extra unwanted (by Australia) refugees located on Christmas Island to the vessel being turned back — potentially an offence under Australia's own domestic laws against people smuggling. But ultimately, it is in fiscal policy that the greatest good or harm can be done. It looks as though Treasurer Joe Hockey − with Tony Abbott’s blessing − is taking the harm option. The treasurer is urging the poor to tighten their belts, while hyperventilating about overspending causing the budget crisis. But most credible economists say is not an immediate crisis, but a long term problem requiring a restructuring of revenue — not belt tightening. Should we bring out the smelling salts or the cigars? The financial team appear to be in triumphant cigar smoking mode, as the poor and the disabled the old and unemployed come within the budget’s rifle sights. Bob Ellis dubs Hockey on IA as the ‘dumbest politician ever’, as the treasurer crows about implementing an austerity regime that has been utterly discredited throughout the western world, including by world renowned economists such as Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz because of its clear economic contraction effects. Hockey is also, ironically, under a cloud regarding hefty donations for providing exclusive access to select groups, including business and lobbyists, at pricey functions. 248 Finally the ultimate destructive piece de resistance by Abbott must be his decision to completely ignore the warnings of 97 per cent (or more) of the world's climate scientists on the extreme danger to our planetary home, of human induced global warming, including Australia’s own chief scientist Ian Chubb. David Suzuki has called it wilful blindness and a crime against future generations for Tony Abbott to ignore the threat and suppress action on climate change. Meanwhile, Abbott supports and subsidises fossil fuel polluters and is hell bent on suppressing investment in renewable sources of energy. He has by the way, appointed climate sceptic Dick Warburton to review the renewable energy target — flagging his contempt for renewables. Abbottshows no respect for scientific evidence or empathy and concern for the fate of Australians and millions of the world’s poor, or for his own children and future grandchildren. Is it because he is a psycho with no empathy or care for anyone apart from himself, who has gathered a bunch of sociopaths around him? Traditional counseling does not work for psychopaths, who may add skills thus gained to their manipulative repertoire. Less intelligent psychopaths may end up in jail. Smarter ones may end up running companies or the country. If Tony Abbott is a psychopath he is incapable of genuine care for others. He should, therefore, not be running the country. Be afraid; be very afraid. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License 249 John Graham's art is available for purchase by emailing [email protected] See a gallery of John's political art on his Cartoons and Caricatures Facebook page. Tony AbbottTony WindsorChris BergBernie BantonScott MorrisonJoe HockeyMalcolm FraserBob EllisPaul Krugman Joseph StieglitzAlan Austin Recent articles by Lyn Bender (showing 10 of 30 articles | view all articles by this author)  25 January 2015 | Advance Australia unfair: Je suis les refugees du Manus  9 January 2015 | Our mean government and the not so happy season  16 December 2014 | Tony Abbott: Faking it but not making it  4 December 2014 | Abbott's Brave New World  26 November 2014 | It's raining men: Julie Bishop in the power zone  13 November 2014 | Tony Abbott and the Age of Stupid  22 October 2014 | Time to do better on Ebola, Tony Fiddler  7 October 2014 | Tony Abbott sends Australia off to fight the wrong war  23 September 2014 | Terrifying Tony's war on unpopularity  10 September 2014 | Facing extinction in the land of denial  About the Blog  Archives Differences Between a Psychopath vs Sociopath By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. ~ 3 min read 250 Society has conspired with Hollywood to put two seemingly-sexy psychology terms into our collective consciousness — psychopath and sociopath. Psychopath and sociopath are pop psychology terms for what psychiatry calls an antisocial personality disorder. Today, these two terms are not really well-defined in the psychology research literature. Nonetheless, there are some general differences between these two types of personality types, which we’ll talk about in this article. Both types of personality have a pervasive pattern of disregard for the safety and rights of others. Deceit and manipulation are central features to both types of personality. And contrary to popular belief, a psychopath or sociopath is not necessarily violent. The common features of a psychopath and sociopath lie in their shared diagnosis — antisocial personality disorder. The DSM-5 defines antisocial personality as someone have 3 or more of the following traits: 1. Regularly breaks or flouts the law 2. Constantly lies and deceives others 3. Is impulsive and doesn’t plan ahead 4. Can be prone to fighting and aggressiveness 5. Has little regard for the safety of others 6. Irresponsible, can’t meet financial obligations 7. Doesn’t feel remorse or guilt In both cases, some signs or symptoms are nearly always present before age 15. By the time a person is an adult, they are well on their way to becoming a psychopath or sociopath. 251 Traits of a Psychopath Psychology researchers generally believe that psychopaths tends to be born — it’s likely a genetic predisposition — while sociopaths tend to be made by their environment. (Which is not to say that psychopaths may not also suffer from some sort of childhood trauma.) Psychopathy might be related to physiological brain differences. Research has shown psychopaths have underdeveloped components of the brain commonly thought to be responsible for emotion regulation and impulse control. Psychopaths, in general, have a hard time forming real emotional attachments with others. Instead, they form artificial, shallow relationships designed to be manipulated in a way that most benefits the psychopath. People are seen as pawns to be used to forward the psychopath’s goals. Psychopaths rarely feel guilt regarding any of their behaviors, no matter how much they hurt others. But psychopaths can often be seen by others as being charming and trustworthy, holding steady, normal jobs. Some even have families and seemingly-loving relationships with a partner. While they tend to be well-educated, they may also have learned a great deal on their own. When a psychopath engages in criminal behavior, they tend to do so in a way that minimizes risk to themselves. They will carefully plan criminal activity to ensure they don’t get caught, having contingency plans in place for every possibility. Psychopath Pop Culture Examples: Dexter, Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho Traits of a Sociopath Researchers tend to believe that sociopathy is the result of environmental factors, such as a child or teen’s upbringing in a very negative household that resulted in physical abuse, emotional abuse, or childhood trauma. Sociopaths, in general, tend to be more impulsive and erratic in their behavior than their psychopath counterparts. While also having difficulties in forming attachments to others, 252 some sociopaths may be able to form an attachment to a like-minded group or person. Unlike psychopaths, most sociopaths don’t hold down long-term jobs or present much of a normal family life to the outside world. When a sociopath engages in criminal behavior, they may do so in an impulsive and largely unplanned manner, with little regard for the risks or consequences of their actions. They may become agitated and angered easily, sometimes resulting in violent outbursts. These kinds of behaviors increase a sociopath’s chances of being apprehended. Sociopath Pop Culture Examples: The Joker in The Dark Knight, JD in Heathers, Alex Delarge in A Clockwork Orange Who is More Dangerous? Both psychopaths and sociopaths present risks to society, because they will often try and live a normal life while coping with their disorder. But psychopathy is likely the more dangerous disorder, because they experience a lot less guilt connected to their actions. A psychopath also has a greater ability to dissociate from their actions. Without emotional involvement, any pain that others suffer is meaningless to a psychopath. Many famous serial killers have been psychopaths. Not all people we’d call a psychopath or sociopath are violent. Violence is not a necessary ingredient (nor is it for a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder) — but it is often present. Clues to a Psychopath or Sociopath in Childhood Clues to psychopathy and sociopathy are usually available in childhood. Most people who can later be diagnosed with sociopathy or psychopathy have had a pattern of behavior where they violate the basic rights or safety of others. They often break the rules (or even laws) and societal norms as a child, too. Psychologists call these kinds of childhood behaviors a conduct disorder. Conduct disorders involve four categories of problem behavior:  ggression to people and animals 253  Destruction of property  Deceitfulness or theft  Serious violations of rules or laws If you recognize these symptoms (and the specific symptoms of conduct disorder) in a child or young teen, they’re at greater risk for antisocial personality disorder. Summary Psychopathy and sociopathy are different cultural labels applied to the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. Up to 3 percent of the population may qualify for a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. This disorder is more common among males and mostly seen in people with an alcohol or substance abuse problem, or in forensic settings such as prisons. Psychopaths tend to be more manipulative, can be seen by others as more charming, lead a semblance of a normal life, and minimize risk in criminal activities. Sociopaths tend to be more erratic, rage-prone, and unable to lead as much of a normal life. When sociopaths engage in criminal activity, they tend to do so in a reckless manner without regard to consequences. 13.4K4.5K About John M. Grohol, Psy.D. Dr. John Grohol is the founder & CEO of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues -- as well as the intersection of technology and human behavior -- since 1992. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member and treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine. View all posts by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. → What Is a Psychopath? Special Research Project of the Quantum Future School 254 Our Sincere Thanks to the Owner of the website on Psychopathic Personality Disorder for kind permission to quote her research in assembling this report. The terms sociopath or psychopath often bring to mind images of sadistically violent individuals such as Ted Bundy or the fictional character of Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter in the book and movie The Silence of the Lambs. But I believe the defining characteristic traits of sociopaths actually cover a much broader spectrum of individuals than most of us would ever imagine. The sociopath is that truly self-absorbed individual with no conscience or feeling for others and for whom social rules have no meaning. I believe that most all of us know or have come in contact with sociopathic individuals without even knowing it. [Wendy Koenigsmann] What is A Psychopath? Psychopaths cannot be understood in terms of antisocial rearing or development. They are simply morally depraved individuals who represent the "monsters" in our society. They are unstoppable and untreatable predators whose violence is planned, purposeful and emotionless. The violence continues until it reaches a plateau at age 50 or so, then tapers off. Their emotionlessness reflects a detached, fearless, and possibly dissociated state, revealing a low-state autonomic nervous system and lack of anxiety. It's difficult to say what motivates them - control and dominance possibly - since their life history will usually show no long-standing bonds with others nor much rhyme to their reason (other than the planning of violence). They tend to operate with a grandiose demeanor, an attitude of entitlement, an insatiable appetite, and a tendency toward sadism. Fearlessness is probably the prototypical (core) characteristic (the low-fear hypothesis). It's helpful to think of them as high-speed vehicles with ineffective brakes. Certain organic (brain) disorders and hormonal imbalances mimic the state of mind of a psychopath. There are four (4) different subtypes of psychopaths. The oldest distinction was made by Cleckley back in 1941 between primary and secondary. 255 PRIMARY PSYCHOPATHS do not respond to punishment, apprehension, stress, or disapproval. They seem to be able to inhibit their antisocial impulses most of the time, not because of conscience, but because it suits their purpose at the time. Words do not seem to have the same meaning for them as they do for us. In fact, it's unclear if they even grasp the meaning of their own words, a condition that Cleckley called "semantic aphasia." They don't follow any life plan, and it seems as if they are incapable of experiencing any genuine emotion. SECONDARY PSYCHOPATHS are risk-takers, but are also more likely to be stress- reactive, worriers, and guilt-prone. They expose themselves to more stress than the average person, but they are as vulnerable to stress as the average person. (This suggests that they are not "fully psychopathic." This may be due to distinctive genetic variations.) They are daring, adventurous, unconventional people who began playing by their own rules early in life. They are strongly driven by a desire to escape or avoid pain, but are unable to resist temptation. As their anxiety increases toward some forbidden object, so does their attraction to it. They live their lives by the lure of temptation. Both primary and secondary psychopaths can be subdivided into: DISTEMPERED PSYCHOPATHS are the kind that seem to fly into a rage or frenzy more easily and more often than other subtypes. Their frenzy will resemble an epileptic fit. They are also usually men with incredibly strong sex drives, capable of astonishing feats of sexual energy, and seemingly obsessed by sexual urges during a large part of their waking lives. Powerful cravings also seem to characterize them, as in drug addiction, kleptomania, pedophilia, any illicit or illegal indulgence. They like the endorphin "high" or "rush" off of excitement and risk-taking. The serial-rapist-murderer known as the Boston Strangler was such a psychopath. CHARISMATIC PSYCHOPATHS are charming, attractive liars. They are usually gifted at some talent or another, and they use it to their advantage in manipulating others. They are usually fast-talkers, and possess an almost demonic ability to persuade others out of everything they own, even their lives. Leaders of religious sects or cults, for example, might be psychopaths if they lead their followers to their deaths. This subtype often comes to believe in their own fictions. They are irresistible. Sociopaths have always existed in varying form and to various degrees. They have been known by various titles. They have been studied using various techniques, and through the years their ailment has been blamed on various causes. But one thing never varies: 256 all sociopaths share three common characteristics. They are all very egocentric individuals with no empathy for others, and they are incapable of feeling remorse or guilt. [The Sociopath Rebecca Horton (April 1999)] While the psychopath has likes and dislikes and fondness for the pleasures that human company can bring, analysis shows that he is completely egocentric, valuing others only for their enhancement of his own pleasure or status. While he gives no real love, he is quite capable of inspiring love of sometimes fanatical degree in others. He is generally superficially charming and often makes a striking impression as possessed of the noblest of human qualities. He makes friends easily, and is very manipulative, using his ability with words to talk his way out of trouble. Many psychopaths love to be admired and bask in the adulation of others. With the lack of love, there is also a lack of empathy. The psychopath is unable to feel sorry for others in unfortunate situations or put himself in another's place, whether or not they have been harmed by him.[Gordon Banks] How Psychopaths View The World Not only do they covet possessions and power, but they gain special pleasure in usurping and taking from others (a symbolic sibling, for example); what they can plagiarize, swindle, and extort are fruits far sweeter than those they can earn through honest labor. And once having drained what they can from one source, they turn to another to exploit, bleed, and then cast aside; their pleasure in the misfortune of others is unquenchable. People are used as a means to an end; they are to be subordinated and demeaned so that the antisocial can vindicate themselves... The causes of this sociopathic disorder have been narrowed to several factors through research. One of the primary causes of sociopathic behavior is believed to be neurological abnormalities mainly in the frontal lobe of the brain. This area is also related to fear conditioning. The abnormal anatomy or chemical activity within this area of the brain may be caused by abnormal growth (possibly genetic), brain disease, or injury. This theory has been supported by much research using positron emission tomography (PET) which visually shows the metabolic activity of neurons within the brain (Sabbatini, 1998). The amygdalae, two small regions buried near the base of the brain, have long been known to affect aggression, sexuality and recklessness. Recently, they have also been 257 shown to affect how people interpret the emotions of others. Subtle damage to the amygdalae may explain many of the characteristics of psychopaths - including the difficulty of getting through to them emotionally. It may be that they simply cannot "see" emotions in others. [Are You Married to a Psychopath?] The psychopath is a manipulator, who knows exactly what makes us tick and knows how to manipulate and influence our feelings. They have the talent to spot "kind, caring" women. Mimicry is often used to convince others that the psychopath is a normal human being. He does this to create a false empathy with his victim. The psychopath will try to make you believe he has normal emotions by spinning some sad tale or professing profound, moving experiences; the truth is, most psychopaths go through life as in an incubator, touched by few and having no real compassion for others; but they will lie to convince you that they have normal emotions. The pity factor is one reason why victims often fall for these "poor" people. Lying is like breathing to the psychopath. When caught in a lie and challenged, they make up new lies, and don't care if they're found out. As Hare states, "Lying, deceiving, and manipulation are natural talents for psychopaths...When caught in a lie or challenged with the truth, they are seldom perplexed or embarrassed -- they simply change their stories or attempt to rework the facts so that they appear to be consistent with the lie. The results are a series of contradictory statements and a thoroughly confused listener." [Hare]. Often, their behavior serves to confuse and repress their victims, or to influence anyone who might listen to the psychopath's side of the story. Manipulation is the key to their conquests, and lying is one way they achieve this. One almost amusing example of how psychopaths lie can be exemplified by a man who's footprint was discovered at the scene of the crime. "No, that's not my foot" he said, even though everyone knew he was lying. This is how psychopaths operate. They will deny reality until their victims have a nervous breakdown. Often, the psychopath will turn on the victim and claim that the victim suffers from "delusions" and is not mentally stable. 258 The psychopath is primarily distracted and impressed by his own grandiose self- representation, which often leads to him unwittingly telling people things that lead to his detection. They often forget the lies they told and tell contradicting tales, which often makes the listener wonder if either the psychopath is crazy, although in this case the psychopath isn't really crazy -- he's just forgotten what lies he's told. The most amazing thing, however, is their selective memory. A psychopath might not remember the promises he made to you yesterday, but he will remember something from the past if it suits his purposes in some way. They often do this whenever they're confronted or caught in a lie. Most psychopaths are very arrogant and cocky. However, when charming a potential victim, they say all the "right" things and make you believe they are kind-hearted souls; not always, but often enough. The truth is, psychopaths are not altruistic and do not really care about friendships or ties. Guggenbuhl-Craig states that " they are very talented at appearing much more humble than the average person, but are hardly so." Some are also able to feign concern about the lower classes and profess that they are on the side of the underdog, the poor, and so forth. A psychopath may claim, for instance (if he's from a low socioeconomic class), that he dislikes rich people intensely, but at the same time, he will inwardly yearn and envy what they have. He is like the narcissist, desiring to reflect a false image of himself through his possessions. Among his possessions are included human beings: girlfriends, wives, and children. Some psychopaths can even be very fond of animals (contrary to the common viewpoint), but still view them as objects in relation to themselves. In general, most psychopaths will brag endlessly about their exploits and "bad" things they've done (often called a warning sign, which will ward off careful souls), but more often than not, the woman who is fascinated by him will not listen to reason, even if she is warned by others who know him about his past behaviors. Why? Once again, because the psychopath makes her feel so "special." Please ladies, if you're stuck on any man who is like this, you must come to terms with the fact that it is NOT his REAL personality. He is only playing a ROLE for you. 259 Dr. Black states that one of the most obvious signs of psychopathy is the way the individual will brag about his experiences, no matter "how unsavory...his apparent comfort with his deviant behavior, the ease with which he discuss(es) breaking every rule, (is) consistent with ASP (psychopathy)." [Black, 68]. The psychopath is filled with greed inside, relating to the world through power, even though, as I said, on the outside he can claim to be on the side of the disenfranchised or the downtrodden. I knew one who liked to repeat phrases such as "they have to stop keeping my brothers down" but he didn't mean a word of it. He was actually a racist. The psychopath can also often identify himself as a revolutionary. On the flip side, the psychopath also often paints a picture of himself as the downcast anti-hero (his "own worst enemy type") and some like to see themselves as lone-wolves. The psychopath may even claim he is sensitive and profound, but inside he is nothing but emptiness and greed. Whether or not the psychopath is aware of his behavior is something that is often debated. I do believe that psychopaths usually know exactly what they are doing, although others suggest that psychopaths are "born, not made." As mentioned, psychopaths often claim to settle for second best (being their own worst enemy) and then think they deserve better. This may be manifested in the way they seek power -- either through money (i.e. material goods), manipulation and/or treating people as objects. By enacting such behaviors, the psychopath is also trying to "get back" at society and the world, in order to gain retribution. They will spend their entire lives doing this, whether they are rich or poor, or whatever their social background may be, although studies have shown that they often come from an impoverished or lower socio- economic background and/or social status. (In one of Dr. Donald Black's studies, many of the men were "overwhelmingly white, blue collar, lower middle class, and married, and most had not graduated from high school." [Black, 14]). Let me add, despite Dr. Blacks' studies, psychopaths can still exist in any social class. Do not be misled. I also wanted to point out that I will be using "he" and "him" for the term psychopath throughout this website; let it not be forgotten, yes, female psychopaths exist as well; however, according to the Sixth Edition of Abnormal Behavior, printed in 2000 by three male professors, David, Derald, and Stanley Sue, the rates do differ by gender. Included in their excellent text is a report by the The American Psychiatric 260 Association that the general estimate is 3% for men, and less than 1% in women [Personality Disorders and Impulse Control Disorders, 238]. What is very disturbing about psychopaths, besides their sense of special entitlement, is the complete lack of empathy for normal people, for "antisocials (psychopaths) seem to lack a conscience, feeling little or no empathy for the people whose lives they touch...the antisocial effortlessly resists all regulation, unable to see beyond his self-interest or to adopt standards of right versus wrong." [Black, XIII]. Not all psychopath are uneducated low-class misfits. Some of them are quite handsome and have good careers, and use this all the more to their benefit. Take a look at Ted Bundy; my friend's mother once went on a double-date with him and claimed he was the nicest person. His mother said he was the "best son any mother could have." Bundy was also apparently quite good-looking, which made him even more dangerous. So not all psychopaths are derelict, low-class, high school drop-outs, there are many who also work in professional occupations; the fact remains that there are just more psychopaths who come from impoverished backgrounds than not. [QFG Note: Black's claim that more "psychopaths" come from impoverished backgrounds seems to be coming under some revision. In fact, Black does not seem to have a truly good grasp of the difference between Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder. As Robert Hare points out, yes, there are many psychopaths who are also "anti-socials" but there seem to be far more of them that would never be classified as anti-social or "sociopathic." In a recent paper, "Construct Validity of Psychopathy in a Community Sample: A Nomological Net Approach, Salekin, Trobst, Krioukova, Journal of Personality Disorders, 15(5), 425-441, 2001), the authors state: "Psychopathy, as originally conceived by Cleckley (1941), is not limited to engagement in illegal activities, but rather encompasses such personality characteristics as manipulativeness, insincerity, egocentricity, and lack of guilt - characteristics clearly present in criminals but also in spouses, parents, bosses, attorneys, politicians, and CEOs, to name but a few. (Bursten, 1973; Stewart, 1991). Our own examination of the prevalence of psychopathy within a university population suggested that perhaps 5% or more of this sample might be deemed psychopathic, although the vast majority of those will be male (more than 1/10 males versus approximately 1?100 females). 261 "As such, psychopathy may be characterized ... as involving a tendency towards both dominance and coldness. Wiggins (1995) in summarizing numerous previous findings... indicates that such individuals are prone to anger and irritation and are willing to exploit others. They are arrogant, manipulative, cynical, exhibitionistic, sensation -seeking, Machiavellian, vindictive, and out for their own gain. With respect to their patterns of social exchange (Foa & Foa, 1974), they attribute love and status to themselves, seeing themselves as highly worthy and important, but prescribe neither love nor status to others, seeing them as unworthy and insignificant. This characterization is clearly consistent with the essence of psychopathy as commonly described. "The present investigation sought to answer some basic questions regarding the construct of psychopathy in non forensic settings... In so doing we have returned to Cleckley's (1941) original emphasis on psychopathy as a personality style not only among criminals, but also among successful individuals within the community. "What is clear from our findings is that (a) psychopathy measures have converged on a prototype of psychopathy that involves a combination of dominant and cold interpersonal characteristics; (b) psychopathy does occur in the community and at what might be a higher than expected rate; and (c) psychopathy appears to have little overlap with personality disorders aside from Antisocial Personality Disorder. ... "Clearly, where much more work is needed is in understanding what factors differentiate the abiding (although perhaps not moral-abiding) psychopath from the law-breaking psychopath; such research surely needs to make greater use of non forensic samples than has been customary in the past." In short, if you want to learn about psychopathy, don't read Black. The only kind he had to study were the failures, the ones who ended up in jail or psychiatric hospitals. Keep this in mind as you continue to read the excerpts on this page.] Also, not all psychopaths are calm, cool, and collected. Some of them appear strange or odd, and their behavior can be eccentric or unusual. I believe this is what can confuse victims most often. Psychopaths often appear intense and "electrifying". Do not be misled if someone appears harmless, "foolish", or seems offbeat. An "angelic" visage can also often fool people. Just picture John Wayne Gacy in his "clown costume" as he entertained children as one example. 262 Another example which someone on the "Victims of Psychopathy" board came up with was Bill Clinton and his "goofy" yet loveable demeanor (so is Clinton really a psychopath? Many believe he is). A psychopath (he was diagnosed anti-social) I knew used the harmless cover-up quite well. Everyone thought he was very funny. I did too, at first. Then, little by little, I realised there was something "not right" about him. At first his seemingly harmless pranks were charming, but after a while, he became more of a nuisance and disrupted our work environment, which created havoc and tension between employees. I've learned, a psychopath can use these disguises for his own hidden purpose. Regardless of race, social class, or occupation, however, the psychopath is dangerous to society, for "the nature of ASP (psychopathy) implies that it wreaks more havoc on society than most other mental illnesses do, since the disorder primarily involves reactions against the social environment that drag other people into its destructive web...The despair and anxiety wrought by antisocials (psychopaths) tragically affects families and communities, leaving deep physical and emotional scars..." [Black, 5]. There is much to the psychopathic personality which is baffling and disturbing. 1 in about 25-30 people are psychopathic (also known as sociopaths or anti-social -- the correct title being psychopath.) Since the majority or them are men, I (Wendy Koenigsmann) wrote this site in part, to warn women about the dangers, especially women online, which I believe is a favourite "new medium" which appeals to psychopaths. I have personal experience with this subject as well. This is because "antisocials (psychopaths) are not just characters in our fictional or true-life entertainments. They are family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or strangers we may encounter every day." [Black, 10]. Pamela Jayne, M.A., writes that "30% of men are sociopathic." [QFG note that she is not using the term "psychopath".] If about every three out of ten men I may meet are psychopathic, I would assume this is not something to take lightly. According to these statistics, that would mean every three out of ten men and maybe every one out of ten females. The truth is, we do not really know exactly how many individuals are psychopathic; however, there seems to be a rise in the prevalence of psychopathy and that is why some claim that numbers are higher. Dr. Black claims that psychopathy leads right behind depression, along with schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder, which is an astounding fact. 263 [QFG note: Hare says that Psychopathy is MORE prevalent than depression, schizophrenia and BPD. For all we know, many people who are depressed, become schizophrenic, or develop BPD, do so as a result of interactions with psychopaths. Psychologist Andrew Lobaczewski says as much in his book "Political Ponerology."] Psychopaths are often witty and articulate and almost always "glib." They can be "amusing and entertaining conversationalists, ready with a quick and clever comeback, and can tell unlikely but convincing stories... They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likeable and charming. To some people, however, they seem too slick and smooth, too obviously insincere and superficial. Astute observers often get the impression that psychopaths are play-acting, mechanically "reading their lines." [Hare, 35]. ...They may ramble and tell stories that seem unlikely in light of what is known about them. Typically, they attempt to appear familiar with sociology, psychiatry, medicine, psychology, philosophy, poetry, literature, art, or law. A signpost to this trait is often a smooth lack of concern at being found out." [Hare, 35]. One psychopathic individual I knew claimed that he had a genius IQ and that he was studying several different majors at college. "When I found out I had a genius IQ, that's when all my trouble started" he said. I asked him, "Why?" He replied, "'Cause I'm too smart for my own good." In the end I found out these were lies because he was, in fact, a high school drop-out. [QFG note: Being a "high-school drop-out" doesn't mean that a person is NOT a genius. In fact, considering the U.S. education system, it is very likely that many geniuses WILL drop out due to frustration and boredom.] Despite their failures, psychopaths have a very "narcissistic and grossly inflated view of their self-worth and importance, a truly astounding egocentricity and sense of entitlement, and see themselves as the center of the universe, as superior beings who are justified in living according to their own rules." [Hare, 38]. They often come across as "arrogant, shameless braggarts--self-assured, opinionated, domineering, and cocky. They love to have power and control over others and seem unable to believe that people have valid opinions different from theirs. They appear charismatic or 'electrifying' to some people." [Hare, 38]. 264 I (Wendy Koenigsmann) know exactly what Hare means when I recall one person I used to know (who had been diagnosed); he always seemed to be charming everyone around him, although in the end every woman who fell for him ended up becoming hostile when they realized all he had been doing was leading each one on simultaneously. The psychopath is callous, remorseless, and unempathetic, although at first glance he may not seem that way. He is often exceedingly witty, chameleon-like, charming (but not always, especially when not in a "good" mood), the person who attracts a circle of admirers around him at every party, but more often that not, he is usually avoided -- once people find out what he's really like. Psychopaths often end up associating with others like themselves, although in some cases they don't always get along that well. Sometimes they pair up with other psychopaths and become a close team, one may be a "talker" while the other is a "doer," and so forth, although I (Wendy Koenigsmann) strongly believe that these roles are interchangeable when dealing with a psychopathic duo. Hare states, "As long as their interests are complimentary, they make a formidable pair." [Hare, 65]. It has also been reported that some acquaintances may never really discover their truly dark side. Psychopaths and Relationships It is in this realm that the psychopath comes closest to the psychotic. While seemingly in full possession of his reasoning ability, by all the means of clinical psychology to test and assess them, the psychopath demonstrates an inability to comprehend the meaning and significance of his behavior for other people, and to judge their probable reactions to his behavior. He is often astounded to find that people are upset by his exploits. [Gordon Banks] . .Histrionic...women are particularly attracted and vulnerable to psychopathic males. The hysteric-personality-disordered female is likely to be enamored of the psychopath...She is able...to reciprocate in this projective-introjective cycle by predominately idealizing the psychopathic character. Her need for attachment and dependency complements his desire for detachment and autonomy; she perceives others as all-giving and benevolent, and he perceives others as all-taking and malevolent. The hysterical woman is immune to developing a healthy suspicion when details or circumstances don't fit (also relating to the illogicity of his thoughts/behavior) or do not corroborate the psychopath's oral version of his history. [From "The Psychopathic Mind" -- Origins, Dynamics, and Treatment J. Reil Meloy] 265 The real danger about psychopaths is that some women, in particular, actually have a psychological predisposition towards forming attachments to them. They even fall in love with them. These women, usually of a hysteric or histrionic personality, feel empowered when attached to the psychopath, regardless of the truth she has been told about him, or regardless of what he himself has told her. Some of these women have an underlying fantasy to feel that they are in control with the psychopathic male (according to Meloy). At the same time, I (Wendy Koenigsmann) often question whether it's only the "neurotics" who fall prey to psychopaths. It should be stated that Freud is responsible for the entire coinage of neurotic women, which makes me a bit suspicious. I will present the information, but at the same time, I'm not agreeing with it completely, because it seems that all women, regardless of their "neurotic" natures or not, are prey to psychopaths. We've heard of the extreme cases, such as the women who fell in love with the Night- Stalker, Richard Ramirez, but in general, you will find psychopaths in quite innocuous places, and they always know how to spot a vulnerable woman who will feed their self- image of grandiosity. Of course, good looks help in these matters. The reason so many women fell in love with Ramirez, has been speculated, was probably also intensified because of his brooding, handsome looks and the fact that he could appear vulnerable, "like a little kid," said one admirer. Whether or not being able to feel pity and compassion for a male makes a woman neurotic has yet to be proven. The truth is, an attractive psychopath is probably more dangerous than a less attractive one, by all means. For many women, the attachment to a psychopath goes beyond mere Freudian analysis -- many simply deny the truth, blindly trusting and ignoring reality. Some, even when presented with the cold hard facts, will still admit that they cannot stop loving their psychopathic partner, even after they've been discarded by him. This problem is both a psychosexual one (women with personality disorders themselves who become obsessed with psychopaths), or women who just won't admit to the truth or are ignorant about the situation. It can even be a combination of all factors. Regardless, the psychopath knows whom to "choose." 266 As I (Wendy Koenigsmann) said, the information regarding "histrionic women" and "hysterics" as typical victims was taken from the ideas of Meloy, but does not represent the norm as it were. Anyone can be conned and taken in by the psychopath. Psychopaths pick on everyone, whether rich or poor, smart or not so bright. Although it does seem that the mentally ill are more susceptible: the aforementioned histrionics, etc., as well as victims with borderline personality disorder. Also, trying to "spot" a psychopath by appearance, as I already noted, is not easy. As one student of psychopathy told me, "They often alter their appearance to appear non- threatening, or to create a persona." Tim Field, a noted author and researcher of psychopathy, believes that the psychopath picks out people who can see through him: "A bully's (sociopath) apparent self-esteem and self-confidence is actually arrogance, an unsustainable belief of invulnerability honed from his willingness to act outside the bounds of society to ensure their survival. Targets (or victims) are people who can see through the arrogance to perceive the empty shell behind it - and bullies can sense who can see through them, furthering the target's elimination." [Bully OnLine]. This usually happens in the workplace, and in situations where the psychopath has let his mask drop. According to the author of The Psychopathic Mind (Meloy), when needing to manipulate a female, the psychopath often targets women who are what is often called the "dumb blonde" type, the kind of woman who exudes naivete, often unconscious of her own sexuality, vapid innocence, often not too bright -- their personalities usually border on the Pollyanish, and they always see a silver lining in every cloud. Not that there is anything essentially wrong with innocence or optimism, but when dealing with a psychopath, that can prove a bad combination. Psychopaths seem to be attracted to this type of woman in particular. She is nurturing and all-giving, while he is closed-off and retentive. They have "an uncanny ability to spot and use 'nurturant' women -- that is, those who have a powerful need to help or mother others." [Hare, 149]. As Hare recounts, a particular "nurturance-seeking missile" who had a local reputation for attracting a steady stream of female visitors seemed to have this talent. He was "not particularly good-looking or very interesting to talk to. But he had a certain cherubic quality that some women, staff included, seemed to find attractive. One woman 267 commented that she 'always had an urge to cuddle him.' Another said that 'he needs mothering.'" [Hare, 149]. Psychopaths also like to "attach" to women of higher social status, a woman who represents what he would like to be. Then when he is through with her, he can destroy her and "kill two birds with one stone." However, regardless of what personality type they go after, everyone is still a target. Like the narcissist, the psychopath has an arrogant, disdainful, and patronizing attitude; however, let me make this clear: often in the initial stages of charming someone new, the true character is kept hidden, naturally. That is why, when a woman warns another woman about a psychopathic man, his newest victim will not be able to believe the bad stories about him. "But he's so charming, so kind, so nice..." and so forth will be her reply. Yes. Exactly. He is playing a game with you too. Psychopaths have a grandiose self-structure which demands "a scornful and detached devaluation of others" [Gacon et al 1992], in order to ward off envy toward the good perceived in people. They react towards perceived or existing attachment capacities with ambivalence and often aggression. According to Meloy, most of them transfer the attachment to "hard objects" such as weapons, knives, [magical practices] etc. The grandiose self is represented onto the weapon or object and is a projection of themselves. This of course is more in depth study of the psychopath. Not all psychopaths have a gun collection or a favourite knife or sword, but a great deal of them do tend to be fond of weapons and such symbols of aggression and dominance. I'm not sure if this is true in all cases, but one psychopath I knew loved swords. He was obsessed with them and loved weapons of all kinds. How To Deal With Psychopaths If you leave the psychopath, you can expect that he will either be the type who doesn't make any "noise" but ruins your reputation by spreading lies, or you can expect a lot of open manipulation (a final attempt to gain power and control). For example, I left a psychopath, and to this day, if given the opportunity, he will tell friends to warn me that I am nothing but a "bug" on his windshield and that he has the ability to destroy me like an insect. Meanwhile, he has also spread false stories about me to anyone who'll listen. 268 Why does he do this? After dealing with this annoying behaviour for nearly two years, I've come to a conclusion: Even though they cannot really love another person, and lack real deep- seated emotions, psychopaths relate to others through power and control. If someone should actually attempt to "demean" (in his eyes, this is very real) his power and control, he will react to some extent. The psychopath also made himself appear in control by stating that he "kicked" me out, even though he lived in his mother's house. Later on, he also told my friend that I was nothing but an "experiment" to him, after I had lost money, time, and suffered immensely because of his lying and manipulation. By suffering, I also count extreme depression which lasted nearly two years, as he did not stop attacking me in the two years after (even to this day) that I left him. I believe that some individuals are strong enough to stand up to the psychopath; unfortunately, not all people are, and most psychopaths succeed in permanently damaging their victims. This is why we clearly need more support groups for people who have been in relationships with psychopaths. In sum, the experience of dealing with a psychopath can be very troubling for most people, not to mention, when he is through with you, you can be sure that you will be vilified falsely, no doubt about it. I recently asked Field about what one can do when faced with the lies of a psychopath (Field refers to them as sociopaths) and the apparent absence of justice when it comes to their behaviour - - Field's response was: "The main lesson I have learnt is that when dealing with a sociopath, the normal rules of etiquette do not apply. You are dealing with someone who has no empathy, no conscience, no remorse, and no guilt...It is a completely different mindset. Words like 'predator' and 'evil' are often used." If you try to deal with psychopaths in an ethical manner, you will be in for a shock. Dr. William Higgins claims that you "can't negotiate or bargain with psychopaths." Psychopaths will not only deny the past and trivialize it, but will avoid answering your questions directly, and even if they seem to answer them -- you can be sure that it's not the answer you were looking for. It has been said that even when they do give you a straight answer, the real issue will never be addressed by them, although they may even claim to be honourable when it suits them. But don't be fooled, for this is where the psychopath wants his victim -- he wants to shame you while at the same time fitting you into his 269 plans; this is because "psychopaths show a stunning lack of concern for the devastating effects their actions have on others. Often they are completely forthright about the matter, calmly stating that they no have no sense of guilt, are not sorry for the pain and destruction they have caused, and that there is no reason for them to be concerned." [Hare, 41]. On the other hand, "psychopaths sometimes verbalize remorse but then contradict themselves in words or actions." [Hare, 41]. Psychopaths may apologize or show remorse only to get away with something, but in the end you will be stabbed in the back and realize how very shallow their words were. The psychopath appears not to be able to remember what they had said or committed to for very long. They seem to always be living in the present. That is why they are usually guilty of being big "promise- makers" who cannot live up to their word. Once again, it will be the victim who must deal with the aftermath of all the psychopath's twists and turns, and when he gets you angry enough, you will be discredited as "defective" by him, and the psychopath will often make himself out to be the real victim. As John Wayne Gacy once said, "I was the victim, I was cheated out of my childhood." What often happens in the aftermath, as Field has stated, is that the victim may repress his or her anger for a quite a while, but then, often many months later, a sudden realization of the truth may come over the individual, and the victim will finally realize that all along he/she has been bullied by the psychopath. This is when the victim suddenly becomes very angry and is motivated to have some sort of justice. But when trying to obtain justice with a psychopath, be aware that you will be the one to pay if you don't take a firm stand; the experience will have you more confused and bewildered, and you may even feel tempted to fight fire with fire. In some cases, our society allows psychopathy because we do not really fight back against cheating and lying behaviours (one good example: Bill Clinton). They are also good at tricking their own psychiatrists. For instance, two individuals I (Wendy Koenigsmann) knew bragged that they liked to play mind- games with psychiatrists. "I was the case-study; they could never figure out what was wrong with me, so I would just play mind-games with them" commented one of them. He also learned, from reading about psychiatry and having therapy, that he could just 270 "blame someone else" to get away with things. "I just blame someone else" he said, nonchalantly. When asked, in particular, why he hated his mother so much, (he claimed she physically/mentally/emotionally abused him), he replied, "Because my mother projects all of the assholes she's ever been dumped by on me." That is why Hare believes that therapy makes psychopaths worse; most of them learn about human emotions through psychiatry, and they are "eager to attribute their faults and problems to childhood abuse." [Hare, 50]. Also, "antisocials (psychopaths) themselves can be uncooperative or unpleasant, complicating efforts to study and treat them." [Black, 12]. As for recovery from the psychopath, despite the pain that may be left (some people never recover, according to Field), you will learn how very uncomplicated yet cowardly the psychopath's means of keeping cool is. It's just the way the psychopath must function to maintain their rather fragile (but set in stone for life) self-image. While few psychopaths commit violent crimes, the callousness of the average psychopath usually ranges through subtle, but still devastating misdeeds: "Parasitically bleeding other people of their possessions, savings, and dignity; aggressively doing and taking what they want; shamefully neglecting the physical and emotional welfare of their families; engaging in an unending series of casual, impersonal, and trivial sexual relationships; and so forth." [Hare, 45]. This is a main feature of their lack of empathy.Also, be forewarned that the psychopath will expend much effort (at the victim's cost), in setting up plans, expectations, etc., but they give very little, or nothing, in return. When he knows he's done something to you which you may not comply with, he'll have an escape route ready. Most normal people do the same thing, in a general sense, but the psychopath does it out of pure selfishness, greed, and callousness. He won't care whether it hurts your feelings or not, whatever treachery he enacts will not be disguised once the show is over with him. I (Wendy Koenigsmann) would like to recount the experience of a friend of mine from Japan. She had been communicating with a man who lived in San Diego for over a year, and during the time of their correspondences and phone calls, he seemed so "sweet, caring, and kind." She mentioned how beautifully written his emails were, and so on. 271 It came to pass that this man asked my friend to marry him, and, to top it off, he promised her that he had a job ready for her in the city where he lived, he even sent her a letter from the company with all the information. Well, my friend believed him and came to the United States to marry him. On their first meeting, she mentioned how it was already the beginning of the end, and how she should have seen it coming. She told him, after they met at the airport, that she needed to make a phone call, and instead of letting her use his cell-phone, he told her to use the pay-phone. My friend, albeit naive, mentioned that this contradicted his persona on the phone and through emails. She said she was a bit shocked, but nevertheless she married him. As the weeks went by, things got worse. She found out that there was no job, and that the letter he had sent her was actually just the letterhead from the company copied onto another paper. In other words, her new husband had committed forgery in order to trick her. Next, she began to receive phone calls from women in the Philippines and Canada who told her that her new husband had been inviting them (via online) to come and live with him. My friend was so distraught that she told these women over and over that he was lying to all of them while playing the biggest trick of all on her. The women didn't believe it (why do women tend to disbelieve another woman when they are trying to warn them?), but eventually, my friend told them "If you want to see the proof that I am married to him, then come here and I will prove it." Eventually, she learned from friends and family that Mr. Wonderful was a pathological liar who had a long history of using women and having his mother cover his tracks for him, and, sad to say, this wasn't the only one she ran into. I can say the same, that is why I've written this website, (Wendy Koenigsmann) because I can tell you that these people are out there, and I don't want anything to happen to anyone else or go through what my friend or myself have experienced. It is my goal that through my website, more people, not only women, but men, will become informed and not become victims themselves, because it is truly a painful experience to deal with. So, what is the lowdown on dealing with psychopaths? Either avoid them, or, once you know or suspect what they are, avoid them. 272 Any further contact with a psychopath will be truly damaging. Once you have been involved with a few of them, like many people I know, you also learn to watch for the "red flags." This doesn't mean you should be paranoid about people, just careful. The fact is, regardless of all studies and new therapies, psychopaths are "hard-wired" for life-long bad behaviour. Leland M. Heller, M.D., writes that people who have this disorder have symptoms which include lying, cheating, cruelty, criminal behaviour, irresponsibility, lack of remorse, poor relationships, exploitation, manipulation, destructiveness, irritability, aggressiveness, and job failures. Many do not exhibit criminal behaviour, but act antisocially in socially acceptable professions. Alcohol makes the disorder worse, and psychopaths are very prone to substance abuse. The causes are often "poor parental discipline, association with "bad" kids, and poor bonding with parents..." [Heller, 75]. But the causes can also be mostly biological. Another characteristic is their unusual word usage, because they can't distinguish between neutral and emotional words. One psychopathic individual told me that he was "deftly afraid of needles" once, but the word deftly implies "skill." Instead of saying "deathly afraid," he said "deftly," and never noticed it was wrong. (See Hare's book for more interesting examples of this). Strangely enough, many find the psychopath's verbal deftness quite charming, and psychopaths do tend to talk a lot, especially when they're pouring on the charm. The question is, can you spot one before they get to you? That is why it's important to study whether or not you may be the type who falls for them, who, in essence, becomes prey to believing in them. Some people may find concern over psychopathy irrelevant, but it's not. Psychopathy causes tremendous damage in our society, and affects all levels of our lives. It causes illnesses and disorders such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Money is also lost by innocent victims to psychopaths, and these social predators also do much economic damage to our society. Everyone, especially women, should learn to identify psychopathy and watch for red flags. This doesn't mean diagnosing every man you date, but preferably just being aware of the disorder can help out a lot! After my own experiences, I truly believe in the saying "better safe than sorry." 273 I will emphasize once more that I do believe most women transfer what they want to believe onto the psychopath, to the extent that he is painted in an unrealistic light, so psychopaths can also "play with your mind" in this regard. Most victims of the psychopath only see what they want to see, initially. That is why Field says, "Naivete is the great enemy."Many also "cling to the belief that their loved one (the psychopath) simply has a few problems just like anyone else, not the symptoms of a personality disorder." [Black, 59]. In the book When Your Lover Is a Liar the issue of psychopathy and how psychopaths manipulate women is also pointed out. The author believes that a psychopath's greatest thrill is just being able to "pull the wool" over a woman's eyes. For people who are emotionally normal, we cannot understand what kind of thrill this is or why some of them would go to such lengths in order to trick someone. But as Dr. Heller states, "psychopaths feel no remorse, and actually enjoy their antisocial behavior." (Heller, 76). Also, what I believe makes them most dangerous, is that they can be quite charming and persuasive, and "they have remarkably good insight into the needs and weaknesses of other people" as recounted in the text, Psychology In Action: "Even when they are indifferent to the rights of their associates, they are often able to inspire feelings of trust and confidence." This is best exemplified by a psychopath who professes that "everything is fine" while lying point-blank to your face with seeming honesty and candor, and then, as soon as you turn away for a second, he will stab you in the back. In the end, you will know them "by their fruits" so to speak. They will be sure to let you know who's boss. As one female victim recounted in Hare's book Without Conscience... she couldn't understand how someone (the psychopath she had known) could have wormed his way into her life and then just disappeared so easily. This is how they operate. They just don't give a damn about anyone. Except themselves. Another very strong characteristic to look for (or listen for) is what Dr. Hare refers to as "duping delight." It is as if the psychopath has no need to lie or purpose in lying, the pleasure is attained through merely pulling one over on somebody. As for addictions and so forth, "among the clearest of these links is the one between ASP (psychopathy) and the abuse of alcohol and other drugs," [Black, 91], although most psychopaths would never admit they have a drinking problem, even when it's obvious. As one psychopath put it, "I know how to drink. Drinking is a responsibility, I've been doing it since I was 12." 274 So, once again: Can psychopaths change? Can you change them? No, they choose to behave as they do, even though, to some extent they do have a personality disorder. Dr. Black, however, believes that even those patients who "show the greatest change seem unable to comprehend the degree to which their actions affected those around them. They may continue to live in emotional isolation. Self-interest is a natural component of the human makeup, but it is especially strong in antisocials and leaves many of them unable to develop full compassion, conscience, and other attributes that make for successful social relations." [Black, 144]. "Don't Expect A Miracle" In consequence, whether or not they can't or don't desire to change, studies have shown that they won't change, in general, so don't waste your time trying to help or change them, for the help you offer will always be repaid to you in full by treachery. Black also believes that "victims may fear revenge or other potential consequences, but leaving the abusive situation (with a psychopath) is often better than trying to survive in a relationship built on intimidation and violence." [Black, 185]. Personally, I also believe that it's better to not accept meager crumbs of fake affection from a psychopath. No one needs that kind of abuse. If you keep taking that abuse, I can grant you that you will pay for it both mentally and emotionally, for a very long time. The end result is what is referred to as having been psychologically battered. Some people, feeling that they need to save others (co-dependents), and perhaps a bit proud in their need to prove a point, often fall prey to psychopaths because they refuse to believe the truth. I also wanted to make note that some psychopaths appear to show some insight into their own personality make-up ("I'm a jerk," etc.); however, this does not really mean that they care how they behave. They choose to behave this way. The aftermath of dealing with these individuals and the recovery process can be a "long, slow and painful process" according to Field - - but one must remember that if you have been a victim (target) you are only the "latest in a long line of people onto whom he (the psychopath) had to displace his aggression. He will probably do this throughout his life." Sad to say, "antisocials (psychopaths) often spend their last years alone, sometimes plagued by regret for what they never knew they were missing until it was too late." [Black, 89]. Do I find this a sad fact? Yes. It is very sad and I find it extremely unfortunate that there are people who live their lives this way. But like I mentioned before, as I cannot emphasize this enough: no matter how much pity or compassion you may have for a 275 psychopathic individual, don't try "saving" them. It will only hurt you in the end. As my friend from Japan stated, "(These people) just don't care whether what they do may ruin your life! They can ruin your life!" Cleckley's original list of symptoms of a psychopath: 1. Considerable superficial charm and average or above average intelligence. 2. Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking 3. Absence of anxiety or other "neurotic" symptoms considerable poise, calmness, and verbal facility. 4. Unreliability, disregard for obligations no sense of responsibility, in matters of little and great import. 5.Untruthfulness and insincerity 7. Antisocial behavior which is inadequately motivated and poorly planned, seeming to stem from an inexplicable impulsiveness. 7.Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior 8.Poor judgment and failure to learn from experience 9. Pathological egocentricity. Total self-centeredness incapacity for real love and attachment. 10. General poverty ot deep and lasting emotions. 11. Lack of any true insight, inability to see oneself as others do. 12. Ingratitude for any special considerations, kindness, and trust. 13. Fantastic and objectionable behavior, after drinking and sometimes even when not drinking--vulgarity, rudeness, quick mood shifts, pranks. 14. No history of genuine suicide attempts. 15. An impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated seX life. 276 16. Failure to have a life plan and to live in any ordered way, unless it be one promoting self-defeat. "...More often than not, the typical psychopath will seem particularly agreeable and make a distinctly positive impression when he is first encountered. Alert and friendly in his attitude, he is easy to talk with and seems to have a good many genuine interests. There is nothing at all odd or queer about him, and in every respect he tends to embody the concept of a well-adjusted, happy person. Nor does he, on the other hand, seem to be artificially exerting himself like one who is covering up or who wants to sell you a bill of goods. He would seldom be confused with the professional backslapper or someone who is trying to ingratiate himself for a concealed purpose. Signs of affectation or excessive affability are not characteristic. He looks like the real thing. "Very often indications of good sense and sound reasoning will emerge, and one is likely to feel soon after meeting him that this normal and pleasant person is also one with -high abilities. Psychometric tests also very frequently show him of superior intelligence. More than the average person, he is likely to seem free from social or emotional impediments, from the minor distortions, peculiarities, and awkwardnesses so common even among the successful. Such superficial characteristics are not universal in this group but they are very common..." "...It must be granted of course that the psychopath has some affect. Affect is, perhaps, a component in the sum of life reactions even in the unicellular protoplasmic entity. Certainly in all mammals it is obvious. The relatively petty states of pleasure, vexation, and animosity experienced by the psychopath have been mentioned. The opinion here maintained is that he fails to know all those more serious and deeply moving affective states which make up the tragedy and triumph of ordinary life, of life at the level of important human experience..." Hare's Checklist 1. GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM -- the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example. 2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH -- a grossly inflated view of one's abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings. 277 3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM -- an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have a low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine. 4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING -- can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest. 5. CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS- the use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one's victims. 6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT -- a lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one's victims. 7. SHALLOW AFFECT -- emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness. 8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY -- a lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless. 9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE -- an intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities. 10. POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS -- expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily. 11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR -- a variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests. 278 12. EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS -- a variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home. 13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS -- an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life. 14. IMPULSIVITY -- the occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless. 15. IRRESPONSIBILITY -- repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements. 16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS -- a failure to accept responsibility for one's actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial. 17. MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS -- a lack of commitment to a long- term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital. 18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY -- behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness. 19. REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE -- a revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear. 20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY -- a diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes. 279 NEXT: How Psychopaths View Their World From: An American Obsession ... the Psychopath I wish to educate and warn you the reader of some of the more common signs that the person in question -- usually a male -- is someone you should detach from...and quickly! The sooner you can detect a troublesome person, the better off you will be. One quick check is your placement of him/r on the asshole scale. Now remember, not every jerk or idiot is necessarily psychotic! However, the psychopath is an extreme form of the "asshole" personality type, they've just learned to conceal it most of the time and appear to be "nice, charming" people. They are developmentally stuck in their early years, still fighting the battles of authority and parental control over them! PRINTED RESOURCES Cleckley, Hervey (1903-1984) The Mask of Sanity, Fifth Edition, 1988. Previous editions copyrighted 1941, 1950, 1955, 1964, 1976 by St. Louis: Mosby Co. Fishbein, D. (2000) (ed) The Science, Treatment, and Prevention of Antisocial Behaviors. Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute. Giannangelo, S. (1996) The Psychopathology of Serial Murder. Westport: Praeger. Hare, R. (1991) The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems. Hare, R. (1993) Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths among us. NY: Pocket Books. Hare, R. (1996) Psychopathy: A clinical construct whose time has come. Criminal Justice and Behavior 23:25-54. Jenkins, R. (1960) The psychopath or antisocial personality. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 131:318-34. Lykken, D. (1995) TheAntisocial Personalities. Hillsdale: Erlbaum. McCord W. & J. (1964) The Psychopath: An Essay on the Criminal Mind. Princeton: Van Nostrand. Millon, T., E. Simonsen, M. Birket-Smith & R. Davis (1998) Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior. NY: Guilford Press. Robins, L. (1978) Aetiological implications in studies of childhood histories relating to antisocial personality. In R. Hare & D. Schalling (eds) Psychopathic Behavior. Chichester: Wiley. Rogers, R., R. Salekin, K. Sewell & K. Cruise (2000) Prototypical analysis of antisocial personality disorder. Criminal Justice and Behavior 27(2) 234-55. Sher, K. & Trull, T. (1994) Personality and disinhibitory psychopathology: Alcoholism and antisocial personality disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 103:92-102. Toch, H. & K. Adams (1994) The Disturbed Violent Offender. Washington: APA. The owners and publishers of these pages wish to state that the material presented here is the product of our research and experimentation in Superluminal Communication. We invite the reader to share in our seeking of Truth by reading with an Open, but skeptical mind. We do not encourage "devotee-ism" nor "True Belief." We DO encourage the seeking 280 of Knowledge and Awareness in all fields of endeavor as the best way to be able to discern lies from truth. The one thing we can tell the reader is this: we work very hard, many hours a day, and have done so for many years, to discover the "bottom line" of our existence on Earth. It is our vocation, our quest, our job. We constantly seek to validate and/or refine what we understand to be either possible or probable or both. We do this in the sincere hope that all of mankind will benefit, if not now, then at some point in one of our probable futures. Contact Webmaster at cassiopaea.com Copyright © 1997-2009 Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk. All rights reserved. "Cassiopaea, Cassiopaean, Cassiopaeans," is a registered trademark of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk. Letters addressed to Cassiopaea, Quantum Future School, Ark or Laura, become the property of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk Republication and re-dissemination of the contents of this screen or any portion of this website in any manner is expressly prohibited without prior written consent. You are visitor number 761127 since April 16, 2009 . Lyn Bender  Lyn Bender is a practicing psychologist and a freelance writer. She was the Manager of Lifeline Melbourne and spent a six weeks as a psychologist contracted to Woomera Detention Centre. After which, she advocated for refugees. Lyn was arrested at the Save the Franklin River Blockade. She is currently grappling with writing a novel.that may never see the light of day. You can follow Lyn on Twitter @lynestel. Articles written by Lyn Bender (51)  5 December 2015 | Malcolm Turnbull: Faking it in Paris  13 November 2015 | Turnbull, Hunt & Bishop: Piling on the porkies in Paris  8 November 2015 | Dutton and Morrison: Shades of the Third Reich  2 November 2015 | Malcolm offers Valium for our post Abbott stress  5 October 2015 | No longer Team Abbott — we are now Decent Family Australia  18 September 2015 | Exit evil tyrant. Enter loquaciously elegant pragmatist 281  8 September 2015 | Tony Abbott on the couch  10 August 2015 | Warning! Racist language  1 August 2015 | Sacrificing refugees to win the election  7 July 2015 | A Tale of Two Tonys: Whose side are you on?  30 June 2015 | Tony Abbott and his abusive government  6 June 2015 | The sins of the 'fathers': Catholic Church and Abbott Government on trial  19 May 2015 | Don’t feed the homeless or poor — it only encourages them  4 May 2015 | Death be not proud: Abbott and Bishop dressed in black  16 April 2015 | The Tony Abbott red room of pain  5 April 2015 | The murder of Saeed Hassanloo  11 March 2015 | Hey, Mr Minister for Women — I am Woman, hear me roar  3 March 2015 | Tony Abbott ... meet Dr Carl Jung  24 February 2015 | Climate change is real — let’s party!  13 February 2015 | Tony Abbott ... meet Sigmund Freud  7 February 2015 | Bali Nine's Chan and Sukumaran: Tragic pawns in a political game  25 January 2015 | Advance Australia unfair: Je suis les refugees du Manus  9 January 2015 | Our mean government and the not so happy season  16 December 2014 | Tony Abbott: Faking it but not making it  4 December 2014 | Abbott's Brave New World  26 November 2014 | It's raining men: Julie Bishop in the power zone  13 November 2014 | Tony Abbott and the Age of Stupid  22 October 2014 | Time to do better on Ebola, Tony Fiddler  7 October 2014 | Tony Abbott sends Australia off to fight the wrong war  23 September 2014 | Terrifying Tony's war on unpopularity 282  10 September 2014 | Facing extinction in the land of denial  31 July 2014 | Tony Abbott: Israel right or wrong  19 July 2014 | Israel's 'little bit fascist' Gaza destruction  11 July 2014 | The good, the bad and the unpredictable  23 June 2014 | Refugee Week does little to restore hope for asylum seekers  10 June 2014 | Suicide is not painless, Mr Morrison  31 May 2014 | Captain Abbott and his Titanic climate stupidity  13 May 2014 | What if Abbott and his cronies are just a bunch of psychopaths?  27 April 2014 | The 'World is Fukt' — OK?  7 April 2014 | Murder and mayhem on Manus Island: Scott Morrison and the Salvos  12 March 2014 | Tony Abbott and his headless chooks: Environmental abusers  25 February 2014 | Reza Berati's death diminishes us all  20 February 2014 | Slick Tony's Indigenous insincerity  11 February 2014 | Abbott ends Australian Age of Enlightenment  6 February 2014 | No country for old men — or women  28 January 2014 | Justifying torture in difficult circumstances  20 January 2014 | Australia's hidden persecution of refugees  14 January 2014 | We have heard an expert — so now we need the opinion of an ignoramus?  4 January 2014 | But what if Tony Abbott is just an idiot?  28 December 2013 | Don’t miss the bargains! Time to buy more landfill  10 December 2013 | A four degrees warmer Australia: Hot not sexy 283 The Monthly Essays The people versus the political class The distance between us and our rulers is getting bigger By Richard Cooke June 2014 1/2 Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott at the opening of parliament, November 2013. © Gary Ramage / Newspix June 2014Medium length read From the front page The cult of the arseholeAustralia should have a long, hard think about the kind of people we prioritiseDiabolicalWhy have we failed to address climate change? Weighted to the downsideNotes from Davos and predictions for 2016Live from MexchesterMexrrissey at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney Festival, 23 January 2016Not so exciting timesMalcolm Turnbull needs to make some tough decisions 284 before 2016 gets away from himDi Natale vs the GreensThe Greens leader is at odds with his party on the risks of GMO cropsFlamin’ legendKev Carmody at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney Festival, 17 January 2016 Between the linesMaking sense of the adult colouring craze Gesture politicsRecognition alone won’t fix indigenous affairs Whatever else people say about Joe Hockey’s unloved federal budget, it does have one irrefutable merit: it kills off the myth that Australian politics is driven by polling. For more than a decade now, there’s been a persistent idea that the state of Australian politics is somehow the people’s fault, that fear of focus groups keeps politicians hamstrung in what they can say, that party programs remain myopic for fear of being seen as “out of touch”. But beyond the cargo cult that surrounds Newspoll’s two-party preferred figures, public opinion is an irrelevance. Out in the wilds of policy, popular will is a nuisance, to be massaged, contained or bullied; or, if these don’t work, ignored. When a budget this unpopular is delivered, it’s at least refreshing to know that popular opinion has been comprehensively discarded. In a way, it’s a relief. What Australians want, according to more qualitative polling, is a much more protectionist, statist but socially liberal nation than the one in which we live. The record levels of disaffection aren’t just caused by an unforgiving media environment or broken promises. They’re a sign that the views of the political class are diverging from those of mainstream Australia. People are retracting from politics – but it’s also retracting from them. In the United States, what you might call the “bore in the bar” theory of democracy – that it’s all bullshit – is starting to look more persuasive. In academia, it’s called the “Economic Elite Domination” model: the unhappy idea that democracies are oligarchies in drag. This theory was once unpopular but is now resurging, partly on the back of disquieting research by two American political scientists, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page. After an analysis of 1779 legislative outcomes over a 20-year period, the researchers determined that “economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence”. Little or no independent influence. Stew on that for a moment. 285 Gilens and Page found that once you account for the preferences of “affluent” citizens, “the apparent connection between public policy and the preferences of the average citizen may indeed be largely or entirely spurious”. Seen this way, the shrivelling public involvement in politics isn’t a retreat from modernity and community, but a rational appraisal of how things are. After all, why give legitimacy to a system that just ignores you? Australia isn’t the US, at least not yet. Our system lacks many of the pressure points of the American system where influence can be exerted: we don’t have unfettered political donations (not officially anyway) or congressional deadlocks; lobbyists don’t yet write legislation as a matter of routine; and our system of compulsory, preferential voting means the disenfranchised can’t get so fed up they quit politics altogether, even if record informal votes show many would like to. But we are becoming very fed up. This is what happens now when the subject of “politicians” is brought up in a focus group. It’s described here by the public affairs researcher Scott Steel (aka blogger Possum Comitatus), but it could have come from almost any focus group held in the past few years: “Let’s talk about politicians.” [Groans, chuckles and guffaws are the response every single time, regardless of age, gender or more complicated demography.] [More laughter.] “Give me a few words that you reckon most accurately describes politicians today.” “Just in it for themselves.” “Lying [expletives].” “The two most popular expletives,” says Steel, “are ‘bastards’ and ‘dickheads’. Except for old ladies over 70 – they particularly like the word ‘mongrels’.” This is our version of what the Canadian professor of politics Neil Nevitte calls “the decline of deference”. You can still catch some of that vestigial deference when elderly people call politicians “Mr”. But now those same senior citizens are also calling them mongrels. 286 How did it get to this? In her Quarterly Essay Great Expectations, Laura Tingle outlines some of the difficulties facing contemporary politicians. They’re weak in the face of a modern, globalised economy, but suffer intense media scrutiny at just this moment of impotence. Both the public and their representatives now have no clear, shared idea of what government is supposed to do in a deregulated market, and instead expect it to do everything. Everyone ends up disappointed. Shrinking revenues and an ageing population will “require us to forge a much more explicit new settlement, a much clearer social contract than the one we have had to date”. That this contract will end with Australia as a low-tax, small-government nation open to the world is taken as a technocratic inevitability. The trouble for the political class is that this version of Australia is the opposite of how most of us want to live. Australians are suspicious of immigration. The public is extremely hostile to privatisation and foreign investment. We want the government to take measures, up to and including nationalisation, that will protect local jobs and manufacturing. We want more spending on health care and are willing to pay higher taxes to fund it. We support regulation, and we think big business has far too much power. These positions are shared to a surprising extent across the political spectrum. Our leaders are frustrated by this dogged counter-vision, and the way the public clings to it. “The head members of both major parties,” as Guy Rundle puts it in an article for Crikey, “share a mutual sympathy at the stupidity of their own supporters in rejecting neoliberalism.” On the other hand, on social issues of gay marriage, voluntary euthanasia and abortion, these same leaders are decades behind “ordinary” Australians. This dissonance helps explain why the last two election campaigns were so shambolic. They were failed sales jobs, repetitive, mendacious and joyless attempts to win over slivers of the population. The most recent, in 2013, managed to limbo even under the abysmal standard of the 2010 campaign. Several political veterans described it as the worst they had ever seen. The Labor stalwart and commentator Barry Jones, not a man for hyperbole, called it a “policy vacuum” and “the worst in our modern history for the debased quality of political discourse”. For an event supposedly tailored to what the people wanted, it left them completely dissatisfied. 287 When Kevin Rudd, back in the prime ministerial chair, announced additional government subsidies for apprentices’ toolboxes, no one thought it was because of a nationwide spanner shortage. It was a Hail Mary play three weeks deep, a sorry attempt to regain some traction with “blokes”. Special tax zones in the Northern Territory? Sure. Move a naval base to Queensland? Why not? But there was no detail. Like the Coalition’s Green Army of young workers and Direct Action plan to tackle climate change, these ideas came with a kind of in- built obsolescence, marked “for campaigning purposes only”. In effect, they were decoys. The real policy platforms of the parties, particularly the Coalition, were the opposite – designed to be implemented, but kept hidden during the campaign. For the Coalition, that’s partly a feature of being out of office: since the failure of John Hewson’s ‘Fightback’ campaign in 1993, oppositions that take comprehensive, fully costed and detailed policy platforms to an election are considered deluded. Also, if voters had known what was in the budget, there would have been mayhem. As the former Liberal senator Michael Baume advised in 2012: “Instead of having to defend the wide-ranging reforms of a complicated package … Abbott needs simply to be acknowledged as a credible alternative to a discredited Gillard government.” The kind of election Baume had in mind is a sorry one, an unpopularity contest won by the least unelectable. If voters had known what was in the budget, there would have been mayhem As our major political parties become more unstable – professionalised and no longer anchored to their traditional social values or bases – polling has become a sort of de facto electoral process. Advisers obsess over not giving the people what they don’t want, in a competition between leaders who contend: “you’re not sure who I am, but at least I’m not them”. Sometimes, like the Real Julia, their identity becomes unclear even to themselves. As politicians assure the electorate that they’ll never do anything unpopular, dishonesty has become routine. Citizens have always grudgingly accepted that politicians lie, and they are willing to elect candidates who offer them scant policy detail. But when politicians lie about even that scant policy detail, it’s no longer clear exactly what elections in Australia are for. They’re not endorsements of judgement, because the judgement relies on trust. They’re not endorsements 288 of policy, because we don’t know what it is. They are opening up a democratic deficit we can’t levy our way out of. Instead of fronting up to the electorate, governments now invent a whole category of external bodies: commissions of audit, reviews, people’s assemblies, future summits. They create a kind of pseudo-consent, the illusion of consultation, objectivity and changed circumstances. They mimic the representative format of parliament, but do it in a way that’s both predictable and disposable. Unpopular policies already well planned seem to come from some external body, which is then quickly disbanded, and the government looks benign in comparison. Tony Abbott’s personal maxim that “it’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission” has become our system of government. The people referred to during the Howard years as “ordinary Australians” are dismayed by this process. But how much real power over policy they’ve lost is unclear – it’s possible they never had it in the first place. We don’t know. There’s no local equivalent of that Gilens and Page paper. Some domestic research shows politicians are at least concerned about the same issues as we are, even if their solutions might be different. These kinds of enquiries are scant, though. One participant in a Productivity Commission roundtable on population growth bitchily notes, “Australia lacks a culture in which social science research is valued as an important public resource.” We don’t know, in other words, and we don’t care. For now, the only way to measure the gap between policy and the public is to look at the broader polling itself. The popular will is not an easy thing to synthesise this way. Gleaned from questionnaires, it’s often confusing and contradictory, hoodwinked by question wording, stymied by ignorance. Anyone who has been phone-polled (“How do I feel about Gladys Berejiklian?”) will recognise its limitations. It is not a platform for the creation of policy by itself. But however crude and confused it might be, an analysis of polling en masse does map the co-ordinates of disenfranchisement. It gives a voice to the largely silent half of a “national conversation”. A national conversation. © Commonwealth of Australia 289 You also can’t undertake this trawl without dragging over a natural tension in democracy: just because something is popular doesn’t make it wise. Some of modern democracy’s earliest architects were very cautious about the idiocy of crowds, and warned against mainlining populism. “Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage,” wrote the American founding father John Witherspoon. Instead, most countries settled on representative democracy, where candidates reflected the wishes of their constituents, but not always. It’s the philosophy contained in Edmund Burke’s famous line: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” But he didn’t have to worry about Newspoll. The sentiment is still recognisable in contemporary Australia. In the late 1990s David Marr interviewed the independent senator Brian Harradine, who held the balance of power in the upper house. Marr confronted him with a survey that showed majority support for euthanasia. So why was he stopping it? Harradine pointed out that a majority wanted the death penalty as well, 30 years after it was abolished. “Later I checked his figures and found he was right,” wrote Marr. It left a lasting impression on him, and he spent the Howard years thinking about “the false model of democracy as perpetual popularity contest”. There are some places, but not many, where that model doesn’t look so false. Switzerland is one. Under the Swiss system of direct democracy, citizens can bring referenda by petition, have representatives removed mid-term and strike down laws they disagree with if they have the numbers. It’s a very stable and politically engaged country, but one that has developed inequities that are almost unique. At the local level, one administrative division refused to give women the vote until 1990, when an embarrassed federal court finally forced their hand. It’s telling that the issue that attracts the most Swiss referenda is immigration. More than ten votes have been contested on the question since the 1970s. In recent years their results have ratcheted up towards intolerance. In 2009, a measure was passed that banned minarets on mosques, despite the opposition of the federal government. Earlier this year, the country imperilled its place in the passport-free Schengen travel zone by putting a quota on immigration from the European Union. 290 Australia would likely have remained a much smaller country had it been left up to the people. As George Megalogenis has put it, “immigration is the defining issue in the battle of wills between politicians and the polls, because voters, if given the chance, will always prefer fewer arrivals”. Right now, polling consistently shows that 40–50% of Australians think immigration rates are too high, while only 5–10% think they’re too low. Two decades ago, opposition to immigration was much more fierce. On some polling, desire for it to be stopped altogether reached as high as 70%. When Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott each established “small Australia” policies in 2010, they were altering a bipartisan position that had led to a sustained period of high immigration. They also weren’t alone – economic uncertainty has made immigration more electorally problematic all over the world. Did Australians accept relatively high levels of immigration for so long because they’re tolerant? Australians themselves don’t think so – half think we’re a racist country. Instead, Paul Keating invented a strategy that was then expanded and perfected by John Howard: placate the business community with high levels of immigration, and crack down on asylum seekers to create the appearance of control. Kevin Rudd’s alteration of this gambit caused extreme anxiety among his colleagues. “To state the obvious,” Julia Gillard wrote to him in a private email immediately before her leadership challenge in 2010, “our primary is in the mid-30s; we can’t win an election with a primary like that and the issue of asylum-seekers is an enormous reason why our primary is at that low level. It is an issue working on every level – loss of control of the borders feeding into a narrative of a government that is incompetent and out of control.” The public has long been opposed to asylum seekers arriving by boat. Malcolm Fraser’s decision in the mid 1970s to take in Vietnamese boat people might be one of the most politically unpopular ever undertaken in Australia – it had less than 10% support when enacted. Even Fraser started talking about deportation once significant numbers of onshore arrivals started. The golden age of asylum policy in Australia wasn’t golden, and it was never popular. But despite the heat on talkback radio, there’s some doubt about whether or not the issue of boat people is as decisive as Gillard thought it was. Around a third of people rate it as one of the most important issues, but it seems to have little effect on voter intention. 291 There’s another reason governments take to refugees with such relish: this is one of the few areas where they can demonstrate resistance to globalisation without confronting vested interests or the economically powerful. Australians of all political affiliations loathe privatisation. Both major parties propose it continually. When vested interests are involved, the decision-making process is very different, and the strength of public opinion can be safely discarded. Immediately before the Iraq War in 2003, only 6% of Australians supported military involvement without UN backing. But it’s impossible to imagine Peter Costello writing John Howard a vexed email about that. The Australian’s Paul Kelly, the same person who had described Howard as “‘the most knee-jerk, poll-reactive, populist prime minister in the past 50 years”, wrote that the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators “merely want Howard to behave according to the populist parody of him that they have created”. Somehow Howard was able to prevent his knee from jerking this time. It’s the same in the economic sphere. Take privatisation. Australians of all political affiliations loathe it. The public remains unconvinced of the benefits of selling public assets, with support falling over time. Twenty-nine per cent support the imminent sale of Medibank Private and 54% oppose it, according to Essential Media polling conducted in January this year. Ideas such as selling the Snowy Hydro scheme and the Australian Rail Track Corporation, as suggested by the National Commission of Audit, are opposed by between 50% and 70% of the population. But privatisation is evergreen. Both major parties propose it continually, especially at state level. When it comes to industry assistance, all the parties manage to not listen to their voters. The Greens, for example, are in favour of industry assistance, even though their supporters are among the most heavily opposed when it comes to bailouts for the car industry and airlines. But nationally, there was majority support for auto industry subsidies, even costly ones, right up to the point the industry collapsed. Government subsidies for agriculture, renewable energy and manufacturing are very popular, while only a third of people think mining is in need of a leg up. If Qantas remains in trouble, half think the government should bail it out, either by partial or outright ownership. The word 292 “nationalisation”, not uttered in political circles in a generation, is still a live concept in the community. We support tariffs, subsidies, heavy regulation and barriers to entry. Joe Hockey’s recent decision to block the foreign ownership of GrainCorp reflected how politically poisonous such deals are for the Nationals, but opposition in the community was powerful and widespread, and not just in regional areas. There is almost unanimous support for rejecting foreign ownership of farmland for crops and livestock. There’s a huge community constituency for gambling reform, but very little political support outside of the independents. Over 60% support mandatory pre-commitment technology, according to Essential Media polling. A majority oppose the building of a second Sydney casino, and majorities think online gambling, poker machines and sports betting need more regulation. Politicians have huge incentives to ignore this groundswell. Gambling interests donate heavily to political parties, and state governments collect vast amounts from gambling. In New South Wales and Victoria, it comprises almost 10% of taxation revenue. In the past decade we’ve moved from being a society that wants less tax to being one that is willing to pay a little more, as long as the money is spent on social services. That really means healthcare spending, which has become almost an obsession as the population ages. Support for other kinds of social spending is mixed. Welfare recipients are treated with suspicion (unless they’re middle class), and the arts and foreign aid are lower priorities. Spending on public transport is always listed as important in the community, and just as routinely ignored at state and federal levels. For a long time now Australians have believed that big business has too much power, and those numbers are climbing. Less than half think the same of unions, compared to 80% in 1979. On social issues, politicians often join conservative commentators in claiming to represent the “silent majority”. But on the key social questions of our time they couldn’t be more out of step. Religious resistance to euthanasia or abortion is never described as “out of the mainstream”, but it is. (The same people never describe the royal family as “elite”.) Gay marriage is often described as if it’s a radical social experiment, but among the public the 293 concept has quickly became completely normalised. In 2004 only 38% were in favour of same-sex unions. According to Galaxy polling, that’s now 64% and rising, and 75% believe they are inevitable. A majority of Christians, Coalition voters, rural and regional voters, and young people (81% of 18- to 24-year-olds) support it. The ALP’s party platform changed to reflect this in 2011, but its MPs still haven’t caught up. Voluntary euthanasia attracts even more widespread support. On numbers alone, opposition to voluntary euthanasia is an “extreme” position. Up to 85% of us support it, with only 10% against in some polling, and these numbers vary little by location or gender. But politicians haven’t clamoured to reflect this vast majority; they’ve done the opposite. Every legislative attempt to introduce “dying with dignity” laws has failed or been overturned. There have been at least 13 efforts since 1995, most introduced by the same small set of legislators. On the issue of abortion, Australia has been one of the most pro-choice societies in the world for decades. Today, just 4% of us say abortion should be banned in all circumstances. Fifty- seven per cent say women should be able to obtain an abortion readily – “when they want one” – and another third supports abortion in “special circumstances”. But only Victoria and the ACT have fully decriminalised abortion, and the state of debate in NSW, Queensland and Victoria looks more likely to erode these rights than strengthen them. It’s a strange contradiction. In economic terms, most of us value a vision of an Australia from the past, protected from the uncertainties of deregulation, more closed to immigration, and with the government more heavily involved in the economy. On the social side, our vision seems decades into the future. Taken together, they describe a place that’s nowhere to be seen. In political circles, the explanation for this gap between opinion and reality is passion and saliency. Take euthanasia, for example. The received wisdom is that this mass of support is flabby and inconstant, while the small opposition is noisy, persistent and well organised. Politicians who address the issue can only lose votes, not win them. But in reality, the repeated legislative failures spring from politicians who are much more religious than the public at large, and a small religious lobby that still exerts a significant amount of influence over them. One of the less ostentatiously powerful lobby groups in Australia, it is still strong enough to overwhelm the influence of 85% of the population. 294 Imagine now the power of real vested interests, the moneyed agents in Australian politics who dwarf the heft of a few god-botherers. Not only do they exert real influence in manifold ways but they often no longer need to do it directly: politicians themselves are drawn from the same managerial class as business leaders. As the social base of our political institutions has hollowed out, the train drivers, farmers and small-business owners on the backbenches are dwindling, leaving behind lawyers, business people and union officials. Parliament has always been richer, whiter and more male than most of Australia; now it belongs almost exclusively to a different class as well. It’s no surprise record numbers consider parliamentarians out of touch – they are. None of this is to advocate for a direct democracy in the Swiss style. But if the political class is determined to change Australia’s social contract, it has to do so with some semblance of consent. It will need to put the popular will on par with powerful interests. It will also need to prosecute its arguments in election campaigns, not spring policies afterwards as a fait accompli. Right now, that doesn’t seem very likely. “People of privilege,” said the economist JK Galbraith, “will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.” Hope, where it shows itself, is not within the two-party system but outside it. All over the Western world the two-party stranglehold on government is starting to loosen, and small and micro-parties are tapping into a powerful anti-political sentiment. In Australia we see it in resurgent support for the Greens and the Palmer United Party, as well as the micro-parties. The political class is already taking measures to ensure the success of these micro-parties is never repeated, on the grounds that the Senate election in 2013 “distorted the will of the voter”. With that rationale, it seems an unusual part of the system to target. The smaller parties may be confused, ropey and occasionally crazy, but that doesn’t sound much different from the rest of us. They’re also robustly democratic in a way the major parties aren’t. Clive Palmer’s influence is less predictable, but in many ways his views are closer to those of the general public than his business interests might suggest. As the political commentator Tad Tietze put it, “Palmer’s electoral support comes from the fact he treats the other politicians with the same derision most people have for them.” And the same derision most politicians have for us. 295 The day the Clown cried  January 27, 2016  Written by: The AIM Network  35 Replies By Ross Sharp “Where is Tony Abbott?” “What is Tony doing?” “What has Tony done?” “What will Tony do?” “What has Tony said?” “Tony said what?” “What does Eric Abetz think?” “What does Kevin Andrews think?” “What about Cory Bernardi?” “Let’s write a column about it. Let’s write two. How about a couple hundred?” “And two dozen editorials. And three hard-boiled eggs”. The Guardian Australia runs a hagiographic fiction on Abbott by Tom Switzer who writes; … “As unfashionable as it is to say so, there are very few people in public life with finer personal qualities than Abbott.” And this… “Sneered at, patronised, condemned, he has battled on. Abbott, at 58, is relatively young and exceedingly fit, he is highly experienced, a man of enormous talent and a magnificent parliamentary performer and an adept and compelling politician.” Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor at “The Australian” Rupert’s broadsheet comic book observes of Abbott … 296 “No politician in modern Australia, at least since Malcolm Fraser in 1975, has been subjected to such sustained, vitriolic and personalised abuse as Abbott.” Think on that for a moment. There is something very wrong about it. Sheridan continues … “If he left politics, this would subside. The former prime minister is a strong and resilient person, but this kind of abuse takes its toll not only on the person directly affected but also on their family. It is also the case that the sooner he left, the sooner it was likely his record of substantial, perhaps historic, achievement would be reassessed. No other prime minister could have stopped the boats.” It is reported “that Tony Abbott has been “in mourning” after losing the top job and has been urged to remain in politics by his former chief of staff Peta Credlin. “He appears from what people are saying to be quite bitter, quite resentful, in fact I think it’s got worse,” a Liberal source is quoted as saying.” Abbott denies this. Of course. Former Minister for Employment in the Abbott Government, Eric Abetz states “Tony Abbott has always been about one thing – namely the Australian people” and resident parliamentary whackjob Cory Bernardi says; “It has been the custom of the party to allow former leaders to choose their next role” and warns “against efforts to “muffle” Tony Abbott’s future contribution in party debates.” Abbott announced last week that he intends to re-contest his seat in the next federal election, and appears to under the impression this may pave the way for his return to the Prime Ministership. And this week, Abbott will be jetting off to the United States of Murder to address a group known as The Alliance Defending Freedom, a gay-hate group which describes itself as “an alliance-building legal organisation that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith. Along with our work to defend human rights such as free speech and religious 297 freedom, ADF affirms the good of marriage and the value of strong families around the world, particularly on behalf children, who flourish when society honours and promotes the roles of both mothers and fathers in children’s lives,” and “seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries“. Read, “defending human rights such as free speech and religious freedom”, as imposing their sexual and religious bigotry on others, abolishing abortion, burning witches at the stake and stoning gays to death in the public square. They probably believe Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” to be a guide on how to go about it. Since Abbott was thrown from his job last September, and replaced by Malcolm Turnbull, the political “news” in our mainstream media (including the ABC) has concerned itself with little else but gasbagging speculation, gossip and rumours about what Tony is going to do with his life, will he stay or will he go, how he feels, how others feel about how he feels, and how we should feel about it all as well. In a country of over 24 million people, this is the political issue that should consume our attention and be of primary concern to us, according to our media and its commentators. I could not give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut or a wrinkled rat’s arse if the idiot threw himself off a fucking cliff, and I suspect I may not be alone in that. However, within the closed minds of the ageing anal polyps on the arse of journalism that comprise the Canberra press gallery, this is the best they can come up. We don’t do policy. We don’t do analysis. We don’t report on the de-funding of TAFE’s across the country, the shrinking pool of teachers and students, the discontinued courses, the ones which remain priced so far out of reach denying a generation of youth who have no wish to attend university to learn a trade. No. We don’t do that. We don’t report on the slow and inexorable dismantling of Medicare. No. We do not report on the cuts to community legal services, family violence prevention centres, charitable organisations and mental health services. No. We don’t do that. Not on our front pages. Not in our headlines. No. 298 NSW Premier Mike Baird removes over 40 century old fig trees in Sydney’s Moore Park to make way for a light rail system as a sup to the gambling and racing industry so they may have quick and easy access to their club in order to watch horses run around in fucking circles, and there’s barely any scrutiny of the decision in our media. A couple reports, a column, a few letters to the editor, and it’s over and done with. Nice work if you can get it. Why not concentrate on Mr. Baird’s chummy tweets instead? Too easy. Demonise the poor. Stigmatise the single mother. Disenfranchise the young. Reduce penalty rates. Reduce the minimum wage. Axe the aged pension. We are being hugger-muggered and carom-shotted into a world of black darkness and confusion. The rising of this century will not bring catharsis. The rising of this century shall not bring salvation. The crack is getting deeper, the flames are rising higher, and the political predators of this great divide shall cut our throats, slice our flesh, and drink our blood.* Existence as we know it is over. The End of Democracy. Only the illusion remains. The Ascent of the Idiocratic Oligarchy is here. Gore Vidal once remarked that the greatest, most grievous error the Ruling Classes ever made was teaching the Underclasses how to read during the Industrial Revolution, essentially so as the Underclasses could comprehend the instructions for operating the machinery of the time, and it is an error the Ruling Classes have been attempting to correct ever since. He was right. And they’re winning. Ross Sharp regularly casts a critical eye over society and its mores on his own blog site; Smelly Tongues 299 29 Jan 2016 - 11:17am Abbott Warns Against Equal Marriage To Last People Who Still Care What He Thinks  "http://www.sbs.com.au/comedy/sites/sbs.com.au.comedy/files/styl es/full/public/abbott_sad.jpg?itok=7RwxJi1_&mtime=1454026635" itemprop="image"/> (AAP) Previous Next    1. Previous Next Hide Grid Image 1/ Video Audio By The Backburner 29 Jan 2016 - 11:17 AM UPDATED 50 MINS AGO 300 Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has delivered a blistering attack against the equal marriage movement to the last group of people he could find that were interested in what he thought on the subject. Abbott has been under fire for his decision to speak with the highly conservative group The Alliance Defending Freedom but several commentators have come to the former Prime Minister’s defence saying he has every right to speak with the group. “This is a group interested to hear what Mr. Abbott has to say,” said one insider. “All power to them, I say. The more he’s talking to them the less he’s talking to us, really. He’s perfectly welcome to express his opinion, whatever it is, to whomever he wants. If he chooses to do so to a tiny group of fringe-dwellers in the United States than that suits me perfectly fine. “Heck, let him go over and fight against equal marriage in the United States. They’ve already had a Supreme Court ruling on the matter and while I am not a constitutional expert I’m pretty sure the Supreme Court trumps some guy from Australia with a vendetta.” Highlights from the Prime Minister’s speech include a blistering attack on the current equal marriage debate saying that Australia “needs less ideology”, an ideological standpoint which he expressed to an ideological group regarding those who oppose his ideology. “Sure, there were some confusing ideas in there but they’re all pretty par for the course by now. We’ve heard it all before. Equal marriage ruins families, if people of the same sex are able to marry the rest of us will all forget exactly how to be in our committed relationships, blah blah blah. Really, let him go. Let him tucker himself out. Better to get it out of his system, really.” 301 Advocates for equal marriage have reacted surprisingly positively to the news of Abbott’s speech, arguing that it may well actually help their campaign. “You have to understand who you’re dealing with,” said one campaigner. “If his speech to this group has the same effectiveness as his speeches during his tenure we can expect that the movement against equal marriage will get nothing done for about a year before eventually collapsing due to infighting. “Frankly, that’s a dream result for us. Speak on, sir! Speak on.” The Backburner is Australia's most trusted news source, it is quite obviously satire and shouldn't be taken seriously or before operating heavy machinery. For all the latest comedy articles, videos and updates at SBS Comedy like us on Facebook and Twitter. -------- Original Message -------- SubjeSheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism,Posted on Nov 1, 2015,,By ct: Chris Hedges Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2016 16:58:09 +1100 From: George Venturini <[email protected]> To: [email protected] 302 Chris Hedges Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism Posted on Nov 1, 2015 By Chris Hedges Sheldon Wolin discusses his ideas in an interview with Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges for The Real News Network. (TRNN via YouTube) Sheldon Wolin, our most important contemporary political theorist, died Oct. 21 at the age of 93. In his books “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism” and “Politics and Vision,” a massive survey of Western political thought that his former student Cornel West calls “magisterial,” Wolin lays bare the realities of our bankrupt democracy, the causes behind the decline of American empire and the rise of a new and terrifying configuration of corporate power he calls “inverted totalitarianism.” Wendy Brown, a political science professor at UC Berkeley and another former student of Wolin’s, said in an email to me: “Resisting the monopolies on left theory by Marxism and on democratic theory by liberalism, Wolin developed a distinctive—even distinctively American —analysis of the political present and of radical democratic possibilities. He was especially prescient in theorizing the heavy statism forging what we now call neoliberalism, and in revealing the novel fusions of economic with political power that he took to be poisoning democracy at its root.” Wolin throughout his scholarship charted the devolution of American democracy and in his last book, “Democracy Incorporated,” details our peculiar form of corporate totalitarianism. “One cannot point to any national institution[s] that can accurately be described as democratic,” he writes in that book, “surely not in the highly managed, money-saturated elections, the lobby-infested Congress, the imperial presidency, the class-biased judicial and penal system, or, least of all, the media.” Advertisement 303 Square, Site wide Inverted totalitarianism is different from classical forms of totalitarianism. It does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader but in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state. Our inverted totalitarianism pays outward fealty to the facade of electoral politics, the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and the iconography, traditions and language of American patriotism, but it has effectively seized all of the mechanisms of power to render the citizen impotent. “Unlike the Nazis, who made life uncertain for the wealthy and privileged while providing social programs for the working class and poor, inverted totalitarianism exploits the poor, reducing or weakening health programs and social services, regimenting mass education for an insecure workforce threatened by the importation of low-wage workers,” Wolin writes. “Employment in a high-tech, volatile, and globalized economy is normally as precarious as during an old-fashioned depression. The result is that citizenship, or what remains of it, is practiced amidst a continuing state of worry. Hobbes had it right: when citizens are insecure and at the same time driven by competitive aspirations, they yearn for political stability rather than civic engagement, protection rather than political involvement.” Inverted totalitarianism, Wolin said when we met at his home in Salem, Ore., in 2014 to film a nearly three-hour interview, constantly “projects power upwards.” It is “the antithesis of constitutional power.” It is designed to create instability to keep a citizenry off balance and passive. He writes, “Downsizing, reorganization, bubbles bursting, unions busted, quickly outdated skills, and transfer of jobs abroad create not just fear but an economy of fear, a system of control whose power feeds on uncertainty, yet a system that, according to its analysts, is eminently rational.” Inverted totalitarianism also “perpetuates politics all the time,” Wolin said when we spoke, “but a politics that is not political.” The endless and extravagant election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics. 304 “Instead of participating in power,” he writes, “the virtual citizen is invited to have ‘opinions’: measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them.” Political campaigns rarely discuss substantive issues. They center on manufactured political personalities, empty rhetoric, sophisticated public relations, slick advertising, propaganda and the constant use of focus groups and opinion polls to loop back to voters what they want to hear. Money has effectively replaced the vote. Every current presidential candidate— including Bernie Sanders—understands, to use Wolin’s words, that “the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates.” The citizen is irrelevant. He or she is nothing more than a spectator, allowed to vote and then forgotten once the carnival of elections ends and corporations and their lobbyists get back to the business of ruling. “If the main purpose of elections is to serve up pliant legislators for lobbyists to shape, such a system deserves to be called ‘misrepresentative or clientry government,’ ” Wolin writes. “It is, at one and the same time, a powerful contributing factor to the depoliticization of the citizenry, as well as reason for characterizing the system as one of antidemocracy.” The result, he writes, is that the public is “denied the use of state power.” Wolin deplores the trivialization of political discourse, a tactic used to leave the public fragmented, antagonistic and emotionally charged while leaving corporate power and empire unchallenged. “Cultural wars might seem an indication of strong political involvements,” he writes. “Actually they are a substitute. The notoriety they receive from the media and from politicians eager to take firm stands on nonsubstantive issues serves to distract attention and contribute to a cant politics of the inconsequential.” “The ruling groups can now operate on the assumption that they don’t need the traditional notion of something called a public in the broad sense of a coherent whole,” he said in our meeting. “They now have the tools to deal with the very disparities and differences that they have themselves helped to create. It’s a game in which you manage to undermine the cohesiveness that the public requires if they [the public] are to be politically effective. And at the same time, you create these different, distinct groups that inevitably find themselves in tension or at odds or in competition with other groups, so that it becomes more of a melee than it does become a way of fashioning majorities.” 305 In classical totalitarian regimes, such as those of Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. But “under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true,” Wolin writes. “Economics dominates politics—and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.” (Page 2) He continues: “The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed.” The corporate state, Wolin told me, is “legitimated by elections it controls.” To extinguish democracy, it rewrites and distorts laws and legislation that once protected democracy. Basic rights are, in essence, revoked by judicial and legislative fiat. Courts and legislative bodies, in the service of corporate power, reinterpret laws to strip them of their original meaning in order to strengthen corporate control and abolish corporate oversight. He writes: “Why negate a constitution, as the Nazis did, if it is possible simultaneously to exploit porosity and legitimate power by means of judicial interpretations that declare huge campaign contributions to be protected speech under the First Amendment, or that treat heavily financed and organized lobbying by large corporations as a simple application of the people’s right to petition their government?” Our system of inverted totalitarianism will avoid harsh and violent measures of control “as long as ... dissent remains ineffectual,” he told me. “The government does not need to stamp out dissent. The uniformity of imposed public opinion through the corporate media does a very effective job.” Advertisement Square, Site wide And the elites, especially the intellectual class, have been bought off. “Through a combination of governmental contracts, corporate and foundation funds, joint projects 306 involving university and corporate researchers, and wealthy individual donors, universities (especially so-called research universities), intellectuals, scholars, and researchers have been seamlessly integrated into the system,” Wolin writes. “No books burned, no refugee Einsteins.” But, he warns, should the population—steadily stripped of its most basic rights, including the right to privacy, and increasingly impoverished and bereft of hope—become restive, inverted totalitarianism will become as brutal and violent as past totalitarian states. “The war on terrorism, with its accompanying emphasis upon ‘homeland security,’ presumes that state power, now inflated by doctrines of preemptive war and released from treaty obligations and the potential constraints of international judicial bodies, can turn inwards,” he writes, “confident that in its domestic pursuit of terrorists the powers it claimed, like the powers projected abroad, would be measured, not by ordinary constitutional standards, but by the shadowy and ubiquitous character of terrorism as officially defined.” The indiscriminate police violence in poor communities of color is an example of the ability of the corporate state to “legally” harass and kill citizens with impunity. The cruder forms of control—from militarized police to wholesale surveillance, as well as police serving as judge, jury and executioner, now a reality for the underclass—will become a reality for all of us should we begin to resist the continued funneling of power and wealth upward. We are tolerated as citizens, Wolin warns, only as long as we participate in the illusion of a participatory democracy. The moment we rebel and refuse to take part in the illusion, the face of inverted totalitarianism will look like the face of past systems of totalitarianism. “The significance of the African-American prison population is political,” he writes. “What is notable about the African-American population generally is that it is highly sophisticated politically and by far the one group that throughout the twentieth century kept alive a spirit of resistance and rebelliousness. In that context, criminal justice is as much a strategy of political neutralization as it is a channel of instinctive racism.” In his writings, Wolin expresses consternation for a population severed from print and the nuanced world of ideas. He sees cinema, like television, as “tyrannical” because of its ability to “block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue.” He rails against what he calls a “monochromatic media” with corporate-approved pundits used to identify “the problem and its parameters, creating a box that dissenters struggle vainly to 307 elude. The critic who insists on changing the context is dismissed as irrelevant, extremist, ‘the Left’—or ignored altogether.” The constant dissemination of illusions permits myth rather than reality to dominate the decisions of the power elites. And when myth dominates, disaster descends upon the empire, as 14 years of futile war in the Middle East and our failure to react to climate change illustrate. Wolin writes: When myth begins to govern decision-makers in a world where ambiguity and stubborn facts abound, the result is a disconnect between the actors and the reality. They convince themselves that the forces of darkness possess weapons of mass destruction and nuclear capabilities: that their own nation is privileged by a god who inspired the Founding Fathers and the writing of the nation’s constitution; and that a class structure of great and stubborn inequalities does not exist. A grim but joyous few see portents of a world that is living out “the last days.” Wolin was a bombardier and a navigator on a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber in the South Pacific in World War II. He flew 51 combat missions. The planes had crews of up to 10. From Guadalcanal, he advanced with American forces as they captured islands in the Pacific. During the campaign the military high command decided to direct the B-24 bombers—which were huge and difficult to fly in addition to having little maneuverability—against Japanese ships, a tactic that saw tremendous losses of planes and American lives. The use of the B-24, nicknamed “the flying boxcar” and “the flying coffin,” to attack warships bristling with antiaircraft guns exposed for Wolin the callousness of military commanders who blithely sacrificed their air crews and war machines in schemes that offered little chance of success. “It was terrible,” he said of the orders to bomb ships. “We received awful losses from that, because these big, lumbering aircraft, particularly flying low trying to hit the Japanese navy —and we lost countless people in it, countless.” “We had quite a few psychological casualties ... men, boys, who just couldn’t take it anymore,” he said, “just couldn’t stand the strain of getting up at 5 in the morning and proceeding to get into these aircraft and go and getting shot at for a while and coming back to rest for another day.” 308 (Page 3) Wolin saw the militarists and the corporatists, who formed an unholy coalition to orchestrate the rise of a global American empire after the war, as the forces that extinguished American democracy. He called inverted totalitarianism “the true face of Superpower.” These war profiteers and militarists, advocating the doctrine of total war during the Cold War, bled the country of resources. They also worked in tandem to dismantle popular institutions and organizations such as labor unions to politically disempower and impoverish workers. They “normalized” war. And Wolin warns that, as in all empires, they eventually will be “eviscerated by their own expansionism.” There will never be a return to democracy, he cautions, until the unchecked power of the militarists and corporatists is dramatically curtailed. A war state cannot be a democratic state. Wolin writes: National defense was declared inseparable from a strong economy. The fixation upon mobilization and rearmament inspired the gradual disappearance from the national political agenda of the regulation and control of corporations. The defender of the free world needed the power of the globalizing, expanding corporation, not an economy hampered by “trust busting.” Moreover, since the enemy was rabidly anticapitalist, every measure that strengthened capitalism was a blow against the enemy. Once the battle lines between communism and the “free society” were drawn, the economy became untouchable for purposes other than “strengthening” capitalism. The ultimate merger would be between capitalism and democracy. Once the identity and security of democracy were successfully identified with the Cold War and with the methods for waging it, the stage was set for the intimidation of most politics left or right. The result is a nation dedicated almost exclusively to waging war. Advertisement Square, Site wide “When a constitutionally limited government utilizes weapons of horrendous destructive power, subsidizes their development, and becomes the world’s largest arms dealer,” Wolin 309 writes, “the Constitution is conscripted to serve as power’s apprentice rather than its conscience.” He goes on: That the patriotic citizen unswervingly supports the military and its huge budget means that conservatives have succeeded in persuading the public that the military is distinct from government. Thus the most substantial element of state power is removed from public debate. Similarly in his/her new status as imperial citizen the believer remains contemptuous of bureaucracy yet does not hesitate to obey the directives issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the largest and most intrusive governmental department in the history of the nation. Identification with militarism and patriotism, along with the images of American might projected by the media, serves to make the individual citizen feel stronger, thereby compensating for the feelings of weakness visited by the economy upon an overworked, exhausted, and insecure labor force. For its antipolitics inverted totalitarianism requires believers, patriots, and nonunion “guest workers.” Sheldon Wolin was often considered an outcast among contemporary political theorists whose concentration on quantitative analysis and behaviorialism led them to eschew the examination of broad political theory and ideas. Wolin insisted that philosophy, even that written by the ancient Greeks, was not a dead relic but a vital tool to examine and challenge the assumptions and ideologies of contemporary systems of power and political thought. Political theory, he argued, was “primarily a civic and secondarily an academic activity.” It had a role “not just as an historical discipline that dealt with the critical examination of idea systems,” he told me, but as a force “in helping to fashion public policies and governmental directions, and above all civic education, in a way that would further ... the goals of a more democratic, more egalitarian, more educated society.” His 1969 essay “Political Theory as a Vocation” argued for this imperative and chastised fellow academics who focused their work on data collection and academic minutiae. He writes, with his usual lucidity and literary flourishes, in that essay: In a fundamental sense, our world has become as perhaps no previous world has, the product of design, the product of theories about human structures deliberately created rather than historically articulated. But in another sense, the embodiment of theory in the world has resulted in a world impervious to theory. The giant, routinized structures defy fundamental 310 alteration and, at the same time, display an unchallengeable legitimacy, for the rational, scientific, and technological principles on which they are based seem in perfect accord with an age committed to science, rationalism and technology. Above all, it is a world which appears to have rendered epic theory superfluous. Theory, as Hegel had foreseen, must take the form of “explanation.” Truly, it seems to be the age when Minerva’s owl has taken flight. Wolin’s 1960 masterpiece “Politics and Vision,” subtitled “Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought,” drew on a vast array of political theorists and philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Max Weber, John Dewey and Hannah Arendt to reflect back to us our political and cultural reality. His task, he stated at the end of the book, was, “in the era of Superpower,” to “nurture the civic consciousness of the society.” The imperative to amplify and protect democratic traditions from the contemporary forces that sought to destroy them permeated all of his work, including his books “Hobbes and the Epic Tradition of Political Theory” and “Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life.” Wolin’s magnificence as a scholar was matched by his magnificence as a human being. He stood with students at UC Berkeley, where he taught, to support the Free Speech Movement and wrote passionately in its defense. Many of these essays were published in “The Berkeley Rebellion and Beyond: Essays on Politics and Education in the Technological Society.” Later, as a professor at Princeton University, he was one of a handful of faculty members who joined students to call for divestment of investments in apartheid South Africa. He once accompanied students to present the case to Princeton alumni. “I’ve never been jeered quite so roundly,” he said. “Some of them called me [a] 50-year-old ... sophomore and that kind of thing.” From 1981 to 1983, Wolin published Democracy: A Journal of Political Renewal and Radical Change. In its pages he and other writers called out the con game of neoliberalism, the danger of empire, the rise of unchecked corporate power and the erosion of democratic institutions and ideals. The journal swiftly made him a pariah within the politics department at Princeton. (Page 4) 311 “I remember once when I was up editing that journal, I left a copy of it on the table in the faculty room hoping that somebody would read it and comment,” he said. “I never heard a word. And during all the time I was there and doing Democracy, I never had one colleague come up to me and either say something positive or even negative about it. Just absolute silence.” Max Weber, whom Wolin called “the greatest of all sociologists,” argues in his essay “Politics as a Vocation” that those who dedicate their lives to striving for justice in the modern political arena are like the classical heroes who can never overcome what the ancient Greeks called fortuna. These heroes, Wolin writes in “Politics and Vision,” rise up nevertheless “to heights of moral passion and grandeur, harried by a deep sense of responsibility.” Yet, Wolin goes on, “at bottom, [the contemporary hero] is a figure as futile and pathetic as his classical counterpart. The fate of the classical hero was that he could never overcome contingency or fortuna; the special irony of the modern hero is that he struggles in a world where contingency has been routed by bureaucratized procedures and nothing remains for the hero to contend against. Weber’s political leader is rendered superfluous by the very bureaucratic world that Weber discovered: even charisma has been bureaucratized. We are left with the ambiguity of the political man fired by deep passion—‘to be passionate, ira et studium, is … the element of the political leader’—but facing the impersonal world of bureaucracy which lives by the passionless principle that Weber frequently cited, sine ira et studio, ‘without scorn or bias.’ ” Wolin writes that even when faced with certain defeat, all of us are called to the “awful responsibility” of the fight for justice, equality and liberty. “You don’t win,” Wolin said at the end of our talk. “Or you win rarely. And if you win, it’s often for a very short time. That’s why politics is a vocation for Weber. It’s not an occasional undertaking that we assume every two years or every four years when there’s an election. It’s a constant occupation and preoccupation. And the problem, as Weber saw it, was to understand it not as a partisan kind of education in the politicians or political party sense, but as in the broad understanding of what political life should be and what is required to make it sustainable. He’s calling for a certain kind of understanding that’s very different from what we think about when we associate political understanding with how do you vote or what party do you support or what cause do you support. Weber’s asking us to step back and say 312 what kind of political order, and the values associated with it that it promotes, are we willing to really give a lot for, including sacrifice.” Advertisement Square, Site wide Wolin embodied the qualities Weber ascribes to the hero. He struggled against forces he knew he could not vanquish. He never wavered in the fight as an intellectual and, more important, in the fight as a citizen. He was one of the first to explain to us the transformation of our capitalist democracy into a new species of totalitarianism. He warned us of the consequences of unbridled empire or superpower. He called on us to rise up and resist. His “Democracy Incorporated” was ignored by every major newspaper and journal in the country. This did not surprise him. He knew his power. So did his enemies. All his fears for the nation have come to pass. A corporate monstrosity rules us. If we held up a scorecard we would have to say Wolin lost, but we would also have to acknowledge the integrity, brilliance, courage and nobility of his life. 1 2 3 4 Tony Abbott stands by decision to call for same-sex marriage plebiscite in Alliance Defending Freedom address By political reporter Stephanie Anderson Updated about 2 hours agoFri 29 Jan 2016, 5:44pm Photo: Senator Michaelia Cash said Tony Abbott's views were well known. (AAP: David Crosling) Related Story: Tony Abbott and the right to dissent from the new morality Map: United States 313 Former prime minister Tony Abbott has stood by his decision to call for a plebiscite on same- sex marriage, despite calling the potential change a "massive ask". Key points:  Tony Abbott addresses US-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is strongly opposed to gay marriage  Former PM stands by call for plebiscite on gay marriage  Says the ultimate decision will have authority of the people Mr Abbott said whatever the result of the public vote, the subsequent action of the Government would have "authority". He said the decision should be made by the whole people, not just the Parliament. "This is the best way to decide something that's so important but so personal: it's to let the people decide," he said. "The decision, whichever way it goes, will have their authority." Mr Abbott made the comments during an address to the US-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. The self-described "pro-family member of parliament" cited the 17 countries that adopted same-sex marriage, saying more than 175 countries retained the traditional definition. "I know that numbers aren't the only test — but it's hardly self-evident that the 17 that have changed are right and that all the others are wrong," he said. "Not long ago, most gay activists rejected marriage as an oppressive institution. "Now, they demand as their right what they recently scorned; they demand what was unimaginable in all previous times and still is in most places. "They are seeking what has never been and expecting others to surrender what always has. It's a massive ask; for me, an ask too far." 314 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended his predecessor's right to speak, a view which was backed by Senator Michaelia Cash. Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek. 00:00 00:00 00:00 Video: Senator Cash has media conference rained out (ABC News) She said she believed in freedom of speech. "You would need to speak to Tony about why he decided to give the speech but in terms of the broader picture, freedom of speech, we applaud it," she said. "Tony's views are well known. I don't think that he has expressed any view that is inconsistent with his long-term beliefs." Senator Cory Bernardi has said he would vote no on same-sex marriage even if the plebiscite result was in favour of change, as has Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie. Senator Cash said she would abide by the result of the plebiscite, no matter what the will of the people was. She said her colleagues who have said that they would vote against a potential 'yes' result had to explain their position to the public. "I am opposed to marriage equality, however should the Australian people vote in favour of it I will support the will of the Australian people," Senator Cash said. "The Coalition colleagues who have said that to date are those who've been opposed to marriage equality, I think, all their lives. 315 "Again, we're elected as individuals with our own individual beliefs. "If anyone believes that they cannot respect the will of the Australian people and, again, whatever that will is — it may be to not support marriage equality — and they don't believe that they can then exercise that in the parliament, they need to explain it to the Australian people." Tony Abbott s address to the Alliance Defending Freedom Book reveals Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin’s secrets    0 inShare  10:14pm, Jan 29, 2016 John Stapleton 1 Journalist publishes never-before heard details of conflict and incompetence. Book answers big questions about Credlin-Abbott relationship. Whatever is left of Tony Abbott’s reputation is about to be shredded with a new book containing a string of revelations about the incompetence of his government, including on questions of national security. Credlin & Co: How the Abbott Government Destroyed Itself, written by Australian Financial Review journalist Aaron Patrick, differs from many other books on politics due to the author’s forensic and dispassionate approach to the subject. 316 “I am not trying to push an ideological agenda,” he told The New Daily. • PM: No big spending promises • Institution of marriage must survive undamaged: Tony Abbott • Labor’s bad timing on Gonski could backfire It was commonly said that Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff Peta Credlin had more power than he did because she made more decisions. And the most common questions are: Why did Abbott allow the relationship to destroy his Prime Ministership? What peculiar psychology underpinned their relationship? Why did he ignore the advice coming from so many elder statesmen of his own party, as well as the repeated criticisms from the nation’s media? She was his disciplinarian, his brain. “Peta Credlin became his best friend, strongest ally, his facilitator, his crutch,” Mr Patrick said. “I present scenarios where Ms Credlin was so aggressive, where she tried to exert control across the government, and give specific examples. Normal government processes broke down because Ms Credlin tried to exert so much power.” The question of whether the attacks on Peta Credlin were sexist, as Abbott repeatedly claimed, is explored in depth. “I came to the conclusion they were not,” Mr Patrick said. “I make the case that the attacks on Ms Credlin were driven by her actions, not her gender. She wanted to be the story, she loved being the story. Ego, desire for power, fame, that was what she wanted, that was what she got, that was what she enjoyed. And it destroyed both of them.” 317 Credlin big on defence Tony Abbott used national defence and terrorism as a political tool, a new book alleges. Photo: AAP Tony Abbott was hardly the first politician to use terror and national security to advance his own ends, but perhaps one of the first to allow his chief of staff to play such a decisive role,” Mr Patrick said. “Tony Abbott used war for political purposes and I explore that in some depth,” the author said. “Ms Credlin played a central role. The book explores her influence over national security policy. In his dying days Abbott reached out to the terror threat as a dying man reaches out to water. It was an issue they thought would save them.” Included in the book are previously unpublished revelations about Ms Credlin’s interaction with the Defence Department. One shining light One of the few people to emerge from Credlin & Co in a positive light is Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who Mr Patrick said withstood Credlin’s ceaseless bullying. The book reveals new details of the two women’s falling out. Abbott used Credlin as a crutch to do his dirty work, trying to enforce his socially conservative agenda across the whole of government. Australians are not like that. We are a liberal society. 318 “There is a whole sub-chapter on the powerplay between Bishop and Credlin,” Patrick said. “She was tough enough to stand up and say no, but they tried it on. Bishop comes out looking much better than most other people.” Helpful sources While official channels were closed, there were plenty of Canberra sources willing to provide information for the book. Mr Patrick said while both Ms Credlin and Mr Abbott refused to speak to him for the book, he was surprised by how much assistance others gave him, figures within the Liberal Party and within the bureaucracy. “Ms Credlin alienated so many people, she just destroyed a lot of Mr Abbott’s good will within his own party,” Mr Patrick said. While refusing to reveal his sources, Canberra’s senior mandarins (public servants), many of whom disliked Mr Abbott and Ms Credlin intensely, are also believed to have helped provide background for the book. “The official channels were shut, but the others weren’t,” he said. “It made the book better.” ‘Like looking at a car crash’ As to why the Australian public continue to be fascinated by Abbott in a kind of gawkish way, as if rubbernecking at a car crash, Mr Patrick said: “In terms of the book, I am glad Abbott is hanging around. “Abbott is still a story, and the effect he is going to have on the Australian government is an open question. 319 Mr Patrick says Tony Abbott is a product of 1950s England. “Abbott was born in England in the 1950s and he is still a creature of it. He represents a narrow strand in Australian culture which is in many ways more British than Australian, and that is part of the reason why he was unsuccessful. “He is not a modern Australian. To be an effective leader you need to engage across the ideological spectrum. “Abbott used Credlin as a crutch to do his dirty work, trying to enforce his socially conservative agenda across the whole of government. Australians are not like that. We are a liberal society. “People have a fascination for Abbott because he is a truly weird man, and he got to be Prime Minister, which is pretty remarkable.” Credlin & Co: How the Abbott Government Destroyed Itself will be available from February 1. Mr Patrick’s first book, Downfall: How the Labor Government Ripped Itself Apart, was published in 2013. Tony Abbott’s empty arguments “Because it’s old” isn’t a reason By Sean Kelly From the front page The cult of the arseholeAustralia should have a long, hard think about the kind of people we prioritiseDiabolicalWhy have we failed to address climate change? Weighted to the downsideNotes from Davos and predictions for 2016Live from MexchesterMexrrissey at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney Festival, 23 January 2016Not so exciting timesMalcolm Turnbull needs to make some tough decisions before 2016 gets away from him Di Natale vs the 320 GreensThe Greens leader is at odds with his party on the risks of GMO crops Flamin’ legendKev Carmody at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney Festival, 17 January 2016Between the linesMaking sense of the adult colouring crazeGesture politicsRecognition alone won’t fix indigenous affairs My attention was recently directed towards a Washington Post article from 2010. It asked the question “What will future generations condemn us for?” Looking at things that had once been generally accepted but were not any longer – domestic violence and slavery, for example - it posited three signs a practice would one day be seen as reprehensible, whatever our current complacency. The first is that people have heard the moral arguments against it for some time; in other words, it will not be news to anyone that some people have ethical qualms about the issue. The third is that supporters tend simply to engage in strategic ignorance, avoiding the hard facts that should force them to question their own certainty: “Those who ate the sugar or wore the cotton that the slaves grew simply didn't think about what made those goods possible.” The second, though, was what pulled my mind back to the article today: “Defenders of the custom tend not to offer moral counterarguments but instead invoke tradition, human nature or necessity. (As in, ‘We've always had slaves, and how could we grow cotton without them?’)” This argument is made so often – that something has been the way it is for ages, and so why should we change it – that I suspect many of us have stopped actually hearing it, the same way we tune out anything we hear all the time (traffic noise, Tom Waterhouse). But we should pay attention, because it’s an alarm bell. It was Tony Abbott that reminded me of all this, with his decision to speak to the Alliance Defending Freedom about family. There were reports today of what he was actually planning to say. Have a read and ask yourself, does this sound familiar? We shouldn’t try to change something without understanding it, without grasping why it is that one man and one woman open to children until just a very few years ago has always and everywhere been considered the essence of marriage and the heart of family. 321 Of course, we can’t shirk our responsibilities to the future; but let’s also respect and appreciate values and institutions that have stood the test of time and pass them on, undamaged, when that’s best. The only argument Abbott puts in those two paragraphs is that marriage is an old institution. Elsewhere, he uses different words to make precisely the same point: “[Gay activists] are seeking what has never been and expecting others to surrender what always has.” Now I am well aware that the definition of conservatism is a disposition towards valuing established practices. But I don’t believe a conservative elected representative should be able to get away with the simplicity of “Because it’s old” anymore than a progressive MP should be able to get away with “Because it’s new”. If you are going to argue policy – especially a policy that many, many people have significant concerns about – then there is an onus on you to make an argument on merits. (This is not, by the way, the same as saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s more like saying “It hasn’t been fixed in a long time therefore it isn’t broken.”) Similarly, elsewhere in the speech, Abbott quotes John Howard as having “pointed out that the traditional family was the best social welfare system that mankind had ever devised”. First, Howard in fact said “strong, united, properly functioning families”, though he probably meant what Abbott said. Second, and more important, again, this is not an argument. There may be an argument to be made around social welfare, but Abbott did not even try to make it, leaving us wondering why on earth this might be true of heterosexual couples and not homosexual couples. Abbott made one other argument, about the small number of countries in which same-sex marriage was allowed, but immediately conceded that “numbers aren’t the only test”. So I suppose he didn’t really make that argument, either. Unfortunately, Tony Abbott wasn’t the only recent prime minister vacating the field of argument on an important issue today. Credit to Neil Mitchell (one of Australia’s best interviewers) for asking Malcolm Turnbull this morning whether he could see Australia Day ever being moved from the 26th of January. The PM, to my immense disappointment, said “I 322 think that’s very unlikely.” I wish he’d then been asked “Why?”, though I suspect I already know the answer: because it’s been that way for a long time. Hear those alarm bells? -------- Original Message -------- Subject being Malcolm . : Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2016 07:29:42 +1100 From: John Richardson <[email protected]> To: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull <[email protected]> being Malcolm … My attention was recently directed towards a Washington Post article from 2010. It asked the question “What will future generations condemn us for?” Looking at things that had once been generally accepted but were not any longer – domestic violence and slavery, for example - it posited three signs a practice would one day be seen as reprehensible, whatever our current complacency. The first is that people have heard the moral arguments against it for some time; in other words, it will not be news to anyone that some people have ethical qualms about the issue. 323 The third is that supporters tend simply to engage in strategic ignorance, avoiding the hard facts that should force them to question their own certainty: “Those who ate the sugar or wore the cotton that the slaves grew simply didn't think about what made those goods possible.” The second, though, was what pulled my mind back to the article today: “Defenders of the custom tend not to offer moral counterarguments but instead invoke tradition, human nature or necessity. (As in, ‘We've always had slaves, and how could we grow cotton without them?’)” This argument is made so often – that something has been the way it is for ages, and so why should we change it – that I suspect many of us have stopped actually hearing it, the same way we tune out anything we hear all the time (traffic noise, Tom Waterhouse). But we should pay attention, because it’s an alarm bell. It was Tony Abbott that reminded me of all this, with his decision to speak to the Alliance Defending Freedom about family. There were reports today of what he was actually planning to say. Have a read and ask yourself, does this sound familiar? We shouldn’t try to change something without understanding it, without grasping why it is that one man and one woman open to children until just a very few years ago has always and everywhere been considered the essence of marriage and the heart of family. Of course, we can’t shirk our responsibilities to the future; but let’s also respect and appreciate values and institutions that have stood the test of time and pass them on, undamaged, when that’s best. 324 The only argument Abbott puts in those two paragraphs is that marriage is an old institution. Elsewhere, he uses different words to make precisely the same point: “[Gay activists] are seeking what has never been and expecting others to surrender what always has.” Now I am well aware that the definition of conservatism is a disposition towards valuing established practices. But I don’t believe a conservative elected representative should be able to get away with the simplicity of “Because it’s old” anymore than a progressive MP should be able to get away with “Because it’s new”. If you are going to argue policy – especially a policy that many, many people have significant concerns about – then there is an onus on you to make an argument on merits. (This is not, by the way, the same as saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s more like saying “It hasn’t been fixed in a long time therefore it isn’t broken.”) Similarly, elsewhere in the speech, Abbott quotes John Howard as having “pointed out that the traditional family was the best social welfare system that mankind had ever devised”. First, Howard in fact said “strong, united, properly functioning families”, though he probably meant what Abbott said. Second, and more important, again, this is not an argument. There may be an argument to be made around social welfare, but Abbott did not even try to make it, leaving us wondering why on earth this might be true of heterosexual couples and not homosexual couples. Abbott made one other argument, about the small number of countries in which same-sex marriage was allowed, but immediately conceded that “numbers aren’t the only test”. So I suppose he didn’t really make that argument, either. 325 Unfortunately, Tony Abbott wasn’t the only recent prime minister vacating the field of argument on an important issue today. Credit to Neil Mitchell (one of Australia’s best interviewers) for asking Malcolm Turnbull this morning whether he could see Australia Day ever being moved from the 26th of January. The PM, to my immense disappointment, said “I think that’s very unlikely.” I wish he’d then been asked “Why?”, though I suspect I already know the answer: because it’s been that way for a long time. Hear those alarm bells? Tony Abbott’s empty arguments Poor Tony Abbott, Gonski And Framing Your Way To Government!  January 30, 2016  Written by: Rossleigh  9 Replies An interesting bit of framing occured with Dr Michael Jensen’s article about religious freedom. According to Dr Jensen, the rector at St Mark’s Anglican Church in Darling Point, religious freedom is under attack. He begins: “Freedom of religion? It has to be written with a question mark these days, because there is no guarantee that in a Western democracy in the 21st century you will be able to exercise it.” And what’s his reason for deciding this? Well, the “sneering derision” when people express unpopular views. You see, some people made negative comments about Tony Abbott’s decision to speak to the Alliance Defending Freedom in the USA. 326 In Dr Jensen’s world, one is restricting Mr Abbott’s freedom by being critical of his association with a group that are working towards preventing other people from doing anything that doesn’t fit with their religious values. See part of religious freedom is an ability to impose your religious beliefs on everyone. Unless you’re the Taliban. Then it’s just wrong. Of course, I find it strange that Jensen asks us to accept that we should refrain from saying anything while the ADF and Mr Abbott should be free to say whatever they like. But then I would say that. It’s just that I have this strange idea that when a person does something and people disapprove, the fact that they say so, doesn’t actually restrict their “freedom”. After all, Abbott was allowed to address the group. He wasn’t jailed. He wasn’t physically assaulted. He didn’t lose his job. Turnbull even defended his right to go the USA and speak. Exactly how was his or the group’s freedom being threatened? The irony, of course, that this is a group who want to stop same sex marriage. Yet the way Dr Jensen wrote about things, you’d think that it was the ADF that was being persecuted. Many gay people simply want to marry their partners; they’re not trying to make same sex marriage compulsory for everyone. To sum it all up, Jensen is asserting that telling religious groups that you disapprove interferes with their right to disapprove and to tell others what to do. You see, it’s all in the framing. Framing is when your reaction to something is affected by the way it’s “framed”. For example, a poll on a current affairs show will be greatly influenced by the story before it. Similarly, our reaction to a tax hike will differ depending on how it’s presented to us. “$4 a week, that’s barely the cost of a cup of coffee!” is much more likely than “$200 a year, you couldn’t even get an iPad for that!” And, of course, the classic framing example of the past few years: While the carbon tax was a “great big tax on everything”, an increase in the GST is part of tax reform and we’ll all benefit! Recently, Labor has announced their commitment to the Gonski education reforms. And while we’re spending considerably more on submarines, the Liberals are expressing concern that money spent on education is just wasted. 327 While I was pleased with the Labor Party’s Gonski announcement, I was also impressed with the way they were framing it. Bill Shorten’s tweet goes some way towards encouraging people to see the spending positively: “The Liberals see the education of Australia’s children as a cost. Labor sees it as an investment.” Of course, Simon Birmingham, the Liberal Education Minister predictably told us, “Unlike the Labor Party, we won’t be tricked into thinking that just spending more money automatically improves results.” No, of course not. The money has to be well targeted. But equally not spending money doesn’t automatically give you better value. (And strangely, private schools rarely knock back government funding on the grounds that it won’t help them improve results.) The whole point is that well-targeted spending on education is actually a profitable investment. We all know that the countries with most basic education requrements are the poorest, yet when it comes to educating our future workers we seem to think that if we scrimp and save, that somehow that’ll be ok. From a government point of view, surely they must realise that producing more engineers, doctors, electricians and plumbers is better for future tax revenue than producing people without the education to do more than the most unqualified work. Oh that’s right! We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. As Richard E. Nisbett writes in Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking: “For example, a few decades ago, Ireland made a concerted and highly successful effort to improve its educational system, especially at the high school, vocational school, and college levels. 1 College attendance actually increased by 50 percent over a brief period of time. 2 Within about thirty years, the per capita GDP of Ireland, which previously had IQ scores far lower than that of England (for genetic reasons, according to some English psychologists!), had exceeded the per capita GDP of England. Finland also made significant educational improvements beginning several decades ago, focusing especially on making sure the poorest students got an education as equal as possible to that of the richest students. By 2010, Finland was ahead of every country on international tests of academic achievement, and its per capita income had risen to be greater than that of Japan and Britain and only slightly less than that 328 of the United States. Nations that have not made heroic efforts to improve education in recent decades, such as the United States, have declined in per capita income relative to other advanced countries. Such data are still correlational, but they indicate that as a nation begins to break out of the pack educationally, it begins to get richer. As it stagnates educationally, it begins to lose wealth relative to other nations. Pretty persuasive.” So, we’ll have the Liberal Party trying to frame the money spent as being wasted, because Labor do that sort of thing. Why remember how big the deficit was when they were last in government? No, it’s not really bigger under us, because we’re taking steps to get it under control and we stopped the boats, and anyway Malcolm Turnbull’s the PM now so anything that happened in the past two years was all just a dream, look into my eyes, you feel sleepy and… Labor, on the other hand, have the chance to frame it as an investment and as something I wonder which way the Murdoch minions will frame it! Abetz Mach Frei  January 30, 2016  Written by: The AIM Network  14 Replies  The AIM Network By Ross Sharp Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, former Minister for Employment in the Abbott Government, wee nyaff, nudnik and vainglorious shtunk, has a degree in law and a curious habit of speaking factitious nonsense on matters he knows nothing about. Starkly bereft and deficient in experience on anything resembling tangible matters of substance, oblivious to the realities of life in this, our real world, and who has, during his 329 political “career” achieved nothing of benefit for anyone other than himself, this daft, dopey and nescient bed bug on the encrusted, befouled sheets of our nation has lately taken to the habit of inserting his splenetic and choleric self into conversations and issues of national import to hate-vomit his peculiar brand of dead-from-the-neck-up fatuous and asinine fuckwittery almost every day now since he was unceremoniously jettisoned from his ministerial position in September last year. Herr Abetz is rapidly becoming the political equivalent of Mitchell Pearce, turning up to every party unannounced and uninvited to piss on the furniture, vomit on the rug, root the dog, call the Asian and black guests chinks and niggers and then, when asked to leave, loudly complains that he was just havin’ a laugh and that the world has been hijacked by “atheists, feminazis, homos” and political correctness gone mad. There is nothing in his life, nothing in his so-called career which will ever be classified achievement enough to rate so much as a footnote to a footnote to a footnote’s footnote to any political history of this nation or time, and if, when the most blessed and hoped for day comes when he pops his clogs and shuffles from this mortal coil, the news of his demise shall probably be met with total silence or something like … “Who the fuck was he?” “Dunno. Politician. His uncle was a Nazi.” Turn page. Abetz is like a third nipple on a man. We already know that two of them serve no function, but are somewhat mandatory features, so what the fuck and why is this third one here for? Like a eunuch turning up to a flophouse, prompting all the working girls to exclaim with wide eyes and dropped jaws, “Are you serious?” He has claimed there is “a link between abortion and breast cancer”. There is not. In 2014, he proposed a plan that would have required the unemployed to apply for 40 jobs every month, and strip them of any benefits for six months, in other words, no income whatsoever, perhaps 330 in the belief that poverty and starvation are character-building, a trait, possibly genetic, inherited from his Jew murdering Nazi uncle Otto. He continues to rail, wail and whine against and about marriage equality, no doubt labouring under the delusion that if introduced, it will bring about the complete collapse of civilisation as he knows it, city walls will crumble, and towers fall, the sun shall plunge into the ocean, and the earth erupt in flame. He has written “study after study, time and time again, shows that children benefit from having a father and mother”, and cites no such study because none exist. He has also said this … “Most people in a democracy believe social policy should be determined by the people, not by dubious interpretation by an activist judiciary”. He has recently, however, altered his opinion about the “power of the people”, stating if a plebiscite on the matter is put to the Australian people, and they say “yes” to marriage equality, he will ignore it … “There will be people in the parliament who could not support the outcome of a plebiscite whichever way it went.” Eric does not like democracy when democracy does not suit Eric. Eric is a schmuck. A yokel. Science has proven a link between Eric Abetz and total stupidity, and it did not take long. Zolst zein vi a lomp-am tug sollst di hangen, in der nacht sollst di brenne.* Don’t be an Eric. *Yiddish: “He should be like a lamp, hang during the day and burn during the night”. 331 Ross Sharp regularly rails against the stupid and the wilfully blind on his own blog site; Smelly Tongues Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott — the fundamentalist preacher Bob Ellis 27 January 2016, 8:00am 63 DiscriminationPolitics 499 ? 0 0 (Meme by @artbylynettag) It's all starting to fray badly around the edges for Malcolm Turnbull, writes Bob Ellis. Can a former prime minister preach against abortion and gay weddings in the 21st Century? — He can if he comes from Uganda. Abbott is espousing ideals that might get Trump banned in the United Kingdom. Trump may be the next U.S. president. Where does Turnbull stand in all this? He says he’s head of "a broad church". To a passing observer, it’s more like a nut religion. His likely Coalition deputy wants to kill a pop star’s dogs. His own deputy wants to search the seven seas for a crashed aeroplane with no survivors, spending half a billion dollars. She wants Putin, the world’s most powerful man, to order his own arrest, his trial for shooting down a passenger plane deliberately and maliciously. How mad these people are. Yet they are Turnbull’s "broad church". They include Morrison, a pirate, a kidnapper, a people smuggler who speaks in tongues and evidently can’t add. They include Dutton, who wants Triggs gone because she let Save the Children tell the truth about them, the childen, being raped, "encouraging them to make trouble". 332 How crazy these people are. One of them, Hockey, abolished the car industry, thinking there was some good in this. When told it would cost 200,000 jobs he said he hoped it was "creating jobs". He was mad as that. Is as mad as that. He’s our ambassador now. Turnbull has inherited these people. He used to eat with the Whitlams, the Wrans. He buys Henson prints. He carouses with Michael Kirby. What does he have to do with these people? Yet one of them, this week – a "great Australian" he calls him – is telling America the gay- marrying constituents of Turnbull will burn in Hell. Can he offer this man a cabinet post? Can he refuse him one? Turnbull is – and it’s often been said – a man without a party. And his lack of a party is engulfing him. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License Malcolm TurnbullBob EllisTony AbbottPeter DuttonSave the ChildrenDonald Trumpanti-abortionfundamentalist ChristianScott MorrisonNauru Recent articles by Bob Ellis (showing 10 of 224 articles | view all articles by this author)  27 January 2016 | Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott — the fundamentalist preacher  23 January 2016 | Trump observed  20 January 2016 | Turnbull's dilemma  18 January 2016 | Obama's open hands  30 December 2015 | Now the bad news: Brough luck, Malcolm 333  13 December 2015 | Turnbull, Shorten and the next election  11 December 2015 | Seven days: The beginning of the end for Turnbull  4 December 2015 | All the Prime Minister's men  30 November 2015 | Turnbull, dwindling  20 November 2015 | If you were Assad Tony Abbott likens carbon tax to socialism in speech to Tasmanian Liberal Party conference Updated 26 Oct 2013, 3:18pmSat 26 Oct 2013, 3:18pm Sorry, this video has expired Video: PM mocks Bill Shorten, urging him to allow carbon tax repeal (ABC News) Photo: Prime Minister Tony Abbott. (AAP: Dan Peled) Related Story: Abbott urges Labor to 'repent' as carbon tax laws unveiled Map: TAS Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used Labor's internal leadership rivalries as ammunition to goad the Opposition into helping scrap the carbon tax. Mr Abbott wants legislation to end the tax passed by Christmas, but has so far failed to secure enough support in the Senate. In a speech to party faithful at the Tasmanian Liberal Party conference in Hobart, Mr Abbott said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's change of heart on the Labor leadership is evidence he can alter his position. Mr Shorten cleared the way for a last-minute change in prime minister before the 2013 federal election when he switched his support from Julia Gillard to Kevin Rudd. Mr Abbott took a swipe at the Opposition Leader, calling him "Bill 'Shock' Shorten" and saying: "We know that he's capable of changing his mind." "We remember what he said about Julia Gillard until quite recently. He changed his mind about her. 334 "Well, Bill, if you can change your mind on your colleagues you can change your mind on something of far more weight to the people of Australia." Mr Abbott also said the carbon tax was a socialist policy in disguise. "Let's be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism," he said. "That's what the carbon tax was." More than 150 members attended the address and gave the Prime Minister a standing ovation as he entered the room. Who is Bill Shorten? Bill Shorten's election as leader of the ALP fulfils a long-held ambition for the former union chief. Photo: AAP Mr Abbott thanked the Tasmanian division of the Liberal Party for running a strong election race. He says the Liberal Party did better in Tasmania, where there was an 11.7 per cent swing to the party, than anywhere else. Mr Abbott told the room that his first 50 days in power had been a "success". He said the Government is delivering on key election promises, such as setting up business and Indigenous advisory councils, and reigning in the cost of the National Broadband Network. "This country is now once again as it should always be, open for business," he said. The Prime Minister singled out the Government's asylum seeker policy in particular, saying the Coalition has achieved a significant reduction in the number of asylum seeker boats trying to reach Australia. 335 "I don't want to underestimate the difficulty of that challenge but they are stopping," he said. "Over the last month, illegal arrivals by boat have been scarcely 10 per cent of the peak under Labor in July." But Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek says the Government is creating the perception there are less boats by restricting information about their arrival. "For the last three years they've been talking about stopping the boats - well, they've just stopped reporting the boats." <iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-MGHZ8M" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> s Tony Abbott a political sociopath? March 19, 2015 I’m not a psychologist. Just thought we’d get that out of the way before some smartarse decides to point it out, like that time at the hospital. Tony Abbott’s time as Prime Minister has been characterised by gaffes, scandals and deeply unpopular policy. But is there something more than incompetency going on? Is the Abbott government pathologically incapable of caring for anyone but itself? This is a diagnosis not of the man, but of his behaviour as both a public figure and the Prime Minister of Australia. There are a number of hallmarks of sociopathy, and though we don’t have time to discuss them all, there are a few that stand out. Lack of remorse or guilt Way back in the broken promises-era of Abbott’s gaffathon (or about five months ago), the PM was confronted numerous times on television for reneging on his pre-election vows of no 336 cuts to the ABC, SBS, health or education. Despite clearly disregarding these commitments, Abbott not only failed to apologise, he also point-blank refused to acknowledge that any promises had been broken. Impulsivity and risk-taking In recent months, Abbott has become infamous for making his patented Captain’s Calls – seemingly arbitrary decisions made without consultation. These include reinstituting knighthoods, bestowing such a knighthood on Prince Philip, attempting to delist Tasmanian heritage wilderness, and sacking the chief government whip (this after pledging to reign in solitary decision-making). Glibness When our PM talks about “stopping the boats,” he’s really talking about stopping desperate refugees fleeing persecution. When he talks about “lifestyle choices,” he’s talking about the homeland of entire communities. When he says “shit happens,” he means that a serviceman has died. And when he says “absolute crap,” he’s summarising several decades’ worth of interdisciplinary research on climate change. That’s pretty glib. Deprecating attitude towards the opposite sex Abbott has a well-documented history of sexist behaviour. In Abbott’s eyes, the women of Australia are homemaking “housewives” whose concerns about climate change don’t extend beyond the ironing. The greatest “gift” a woman can give is her virginity, and the greatest “achievement” Abbott has made for women is to marginally improve the household budget (women being, of course, inherently domestic creatures). While Abbott has recently created an advisory panel for domestic violence, the move has been critiqued as a cheap distraction in the wake of sweeping cuts to women’s shelters and crisis centres. In Abbott’s eyes, the women of Australia are homemaking 337 'housewives' whose concerns about climate change don’t extend beyond the ironing. Antagonism/aggressive behaviour, difficulty maintaining relationships Sociopaths react badly when criticised. When the Human Rights Commissioner found that the government’s treatment of refugees amounted to criminal neglect, Abbott’s reaction was to launch a swift ad-hominem attack on her. When the same conclusion was reached by the United Nations, Abbott took it upon himself to speak for the “Australian people,” and informed the UN that we were “sick of being lectured to.” He has also been known to issue threats to foreign governments and heads of state, and question the mental integrity of Labor voters. Callousness/lack of empathy Tony Abbott and his government appear unwilling to draft any legislation that directly benefits anyone but themselves. Concern for the old, the young, the poor, the disabled and the disadvantaged was entirely absent from the government’s first budget, the subsequent protests and objections brushed aside with patronising admonitions of “pull your weight.” A lack of empathy appears to be a core failure of the Abbott administration. It’s also the most distinctive characteristic of sociopathy. That said, I doubt anyone seriously considers Abbott to be a sociopath – I certainly don’t. But I sure think he governs like one. Joel Svensson Business major, journalism minor and sometime voice-actor, Joel Svensson pretends to be smart at La Trobe University in Melbourne. 338 -- Consulted work: "The etiology of psychopathy: A neuropsychological perspective", Perez, PR 2012, Aggressive and Violent Behaviour, Vol. 17 (6): 519-522. 'Basically a psychopath': What Malcolm Turnbull REALLY thought of Tony Abbott before rolling him as PM    +5 It is believed Tony Abbott's relationship with Peta Credlin is what saw his demise as they claiming Malcolm Turnbull was another Peter Costello - all talk, no action Malcolm Turnbull has to deal with an ex-Prime Minister who is still wounded after being overthrown Tony Abbott addresses the nation following losing leadership Three months since the spill and The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Margie Abbott has revealed to friends that her husband is still affected by the loss of his leadership position. Aside from his feelings of guilt and grief, it is the disloyalty of his closest colleagues that has sent the former prime minister reeling, she has reportedly said. Read more:  Shirtfronted: Loyalty, power and the plan to replace a Prime Minister.  Malcolm Turnbull's Abbott problem simply won't go away 339 Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3345231/Basically- psychopath-Malcolm-Turnbull-viewed-Tony-Abbott-challenged- PM.html#ixzz3ymkXKv2U Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook Greg Craven: Now to find out who Tony Abbott is 5:30 AM Monday Sep 9, 2013 68 comments  Save  Like on Facebook648  Twitter0  Post on LinkedIn0  +1 on Google+1  Email  Print  International Politics  World Australia's new Prime Minister has been so maligned by Labor that it's hard to see beyond the caricature. Much of the discussion around Tony Abbott has been ill-informed. Photo / Getty Images As a public personality, Australia's new prime minister is an involuntary paradox. On the one hand, Tony Abbott is one of the most discussed people in Australia. On the other, much of the discussion is so ill-informed that it conceals, rather than illuminates. For this, we largely have to thank Labor and its more enthusiastic media boosters. For years, they have peddled a cardboard caricature of Abbott so simplistic and so pervasive that you could hide either a saint or a psychopath beneath its shade. In one sense, the very unfairness of this treatment probably has helped Abbott enormously. 340 A plausible thesis is that large sections of the population actually have been convinced that he is scary, but having decided to vote for him anyway, have tuned out of the election. Labor's problem being that once you have sold someone as a monster, but he still seems preferable to you, where do you go? Yet the reality is that Abbott almost certainly is one of the most complex individuals ever to hold supreme political office in Australia. Even considered solely as a bundle of conundrums, he is the proverbial politician with enough material to ground an entire conference. Consider. Here we have a Rhodes Scholar - and no, Kevin Rudd never got one of those - who genuinely likes to call people "mate" and hit bushfires with blankets. A deeply religious man, who is massively pragmatic, both philosophically and temperamentally. A social conservative whose rightism does not necessarily extend very far into economics, and who is personally deeply tolerant. All this, plus being the opponent of same-sex marriage with a gay sister whom he deeply loves, and the constitutionally conservative monarchist who probably will put indigenous recognition into the Constitution. This is not material to be reduced to yet another yawningly predictable Tandberg cartoon, although it might conceivably serve for a quirky collaboration between Shakespeare and Woody Allen. Bizarrely, this kaleidoscopic political personality has been obscured behind a simplistic and desperate attempt to convince us that Abbott is "unelectable", a cause that ultimately has proved as pointless as its assumptions were myopic. Now we are left to discover the persona of our prime minister after his election. It is worth pausing to consider just how vile some of these tactics were, if only because they are far from over. The best example is Abbott's much vaunted Catholicism, an apparently fatal character flaw he shares with this writer. Most of us - rightly - were appalled when Julia Gillard was vilified on the grounds of her gender, less often than was claimed by her supporters, but more frequently than is conceded by her detractors. We were upset when she was characterised as a "witch", with all the negative female stereotyping this carried. Yet many commentators routinely parody Abbott as "Father Tony", "Captain Catholic" or most commonly "The Mad Monk". Exactly why is religious vilification more acceptable than 341 misogyny, and which part of the character of the appalling Grigori Rasputin is to be ascribed to Anthony Abbott? I suppose the imputation of giant genitalia might at least be considered flattering. The reality is that Abbott will be influenced by his Catholicism in the same way as Gillard was influenced by her womanhood and Bob Hawke was influenced by his agnosticism: it will contextualise, but not define him. So Abbott will not move to outlaw abortion or criminalise contraception. He will not grant favours to his Catholic mates. Cardinal George Pell will not become Minister for Foreign Affairs. But if we want to ponder things worth thinking about, it is a fair bet that Abbott's sympathy with indigenous people has something to do with his exposure to Catholic social justice theory. It also is highly likely that someone formed by the Jesuits is going to place at least a passing value on education. And anyone trying to predict Abbott's industrial stance would be well advised to factor in some fairly interesting Catholic intellectualism on the legitimate place of trade unions, as well as Hayek. This type of analysis is important because we not only have a particularly interesting Liberal prime minister, but an interesting Coalition government. This is not the old caricature of a club of capitalists leavened with a syndicate of squatters. This will be a government seeking to marshal some very different trains of thought. At one end, you do have a bundle of significant players who have been culturally and intellectually influenced by - among other things - their Catholic origins. These include Abbott, Joe Hockey, Andrew Robb, Barnaby Joyce and Christopher Pyne. To describe these as comprising the "DLP" wing of the Coalition is crude, even assuming the average journalist knew what the DLP was or stood for. But to say that all share certain critical assumptions as to the intrinsic value of individual human beings and their right to express that individual humanity is merely to express an obvious truth. Considering where this might lead an Abbott government is the sort of character analysis that is interesting, as opposed to self- confirmatory condescension. It also is worth asking how such tendencies will mesh with more libertarian elements of the party, whose view of individual "freedom" tends to type people as integers permitted to roam merely within the boundaries of vast economic equations. 342 The potential difference of assumptions and outcomes in such fields as education, health and social policy here are vast. One should not necessarily assume that Tony Abbott is more "conservative" here than a Malcolm Turnbull or a Greg Hunt, or even what conservative means in such a context. An intriguing question is how Abbott the personality will fare in office. It is a reasonable bet that for at least three reasons, he will have a better time as prime minister than as opposition leader. First, there is such mild respectability as doth hedge about a prime minister. Second, no matter how hard he tries, he cannot possibly live up to Labor's horror story. Inevitably, Labor's own self-serving script will reveal Abbott if not as a hero, then at least as an improbable improver. Professor Greg Craven, lawyer and academic, is the Vice-Chancellor of Australian Catholic University (ACU). What's behind Tony Abbott? Thoughts on the one who has taken Australian politics so far from Australian traditions. Tony Abbott is a diabolically effective liar. In discussion with people who prefer him, some seem to regard him as perfect. Any mention of Abbott's shortcomings, such as his habit of saying whatever he thinks might win votes in the audience of the moment, triggers a response redolent of cognitive dissonance. Even the government is dancing to his tune, apparently mesmerised. Evidently, judgement about Abbott is almost universally clouded. How could that be, unless our Tony has powerful backing? I know of just two entities capable of clouding judgement on the scale evident here. Whatever we name our deity; be it Jehovah, Allah or God, He is unlikely to favour one mob of liars over another. That leaves but one candidate for Tony's ally. I reckon the alliance probably began with John Howard. On manipulating the populace, the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Mao and North Korea's Kim dynasty showed the way; Howard refined and adapted it for Australia's circumstances and current technologies. That would not have 343 been enough, however. How could "Lazarus with a triple bypass" have become prime minister but with supernatural help? Tony Abbott learned at the feet of the master, then enthusiastically took on Howard's mantle as The Great Deceiver. He famously described himself as the ideological love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop. Among other things, Abbott is playing politics with global warming[1]. We risk centuries of increasing misery leading, in the worst-case scenarios, to extinction for humanity and sterilisation for the planet[2]. I know of only one entity whom that might please. So consistently does Abbott indulge in behaviour that would bring pleasure to the one in question that I've come to think of him as Satan's pleasure-boy. On the record, Tony has said that scientific evidence and impartial expert scientific & economic opinion are irrelevant to him. He says he'll be guided by the electorate, but I wonder whether he follows another guide. When the vast majority of those most knowledgeable in any field warn of substantial risk, wouldn't a mentally competent and morally responsible adult support effective precautions? A majority of scientists show that we're smart enough to figure out what we need to do. Tony Abbott reveals that we're not good enough to do it. Abbott studied for holy orders; he was evidently a man of faith. Now, he's ignoring Christ (Mark 8:36) "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?". If he still professes faith, then his behaviour belies it. Tony's a pugilist; in competition, he acknowledges few limits. Perhaps that narrowed his vision, so he didn't realise what he was losing. A while back, in discussion of Westminster Democracy, a revealing phrase from the past came up: "Her Majesty's loyal Opposition". There was a time, it seems, when oppositions opposed in the interests of something greater than themselves. In England, that something is personified in the Monarch; in Australia, it would probably be the people or the nation. For Abbott, there's evidently nothing greater than himself. Abbott, it seems, cares little about 344 anything beyond winning the next election; even if it means fire & brimstone, death & destruction. So long as he satisfies his need to feel that he's won. Association with the infernal is not good for the health of mere mortals. The excesses of WorkChoices and the way that, at the end of his reign, John Howard clung to power like a Mugabe or a Gaddafi may be manifestations of mental health impacts due to prolonged exposure. Could it be that the bizarre behaviour of Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and their ilk has similar foundations? I'll be watching Tony with interest, to see how his health holds up. Psychopathology I encountered this while researching another issue and decided that it bears repeating here. Whether and to what extent each characteristic applies to Tony Abbott I'll leave to the reader's judgement. Psychopathy is described as characterised by " a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity, and deceptiveness". A key diagnostic tool is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, factor 1 of which lists characteristics associated with narcissistic personality disorder or Aggressive Narcissism:  Glibness/superficial charm  Grandiose sense of self-worth  Pathological lying  Cunning/manipulative  Lack of remorse or guilt  Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)  Callousness; lack of empathy  Failure to accept responsibility for own actions Diagnosis does not require every trait to be evident in an individual. 345 March 2013 Following the recent revelation that Abbott holds weekly collaboration meetings with News Ltd, it occurred to me that the alliance established by John Howard and inherited by Abbott must have been negotiated with an Earthly manifestation or agent of the entity. Could Rupert Murdoch be that manifestation or agent? [1] Abbott's direct action proposal is smoke & mirrors. The Soviets tried for seven decades to get similar models to work; their empire collapsed. The Chinese tried for four decades; they gave up. [2] Gifted scientists warn against assuming that we can't make such a mess of the world that it's no longer capable of supporting us. Feedback: Site Index This work is licensed under a Creative [email protected] Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Lambie doesn't have to apologise for Abbott attacks: Wang July 4, 2014, 1:48 p.m. Print Story See your ad here Palmer United Party senator Dio Wang said his colleague Jacqui Lambie did not need to apologise to the Prime Minister for calling him a ''political psychopath'', but said Tony Abbott was a ''decent man''. Senator Wang said that Tasmanian Senator Lambie was a ''very straightforward person and she speaks her mind''. ''I think that's a good quality of any politician, to be honest,'' he told reporters outside Parliament House on Friday 346 ''Personally I wouldn't use such language, I think he's [Mr Abbott] a decent person trying to do his job.'' Senator Lambie has taken swipes at Mr Abbott this week as the rookie MPs arrived for orientation sessions at Parliament House before the new Senate sits for the first time on Monday. On Thursday, Senator Lambie criticised Mr Abbott for "parading his daughters around" during the 2013 election campaign and has previously called Mr Abbott a ''political psychopath''. She has also called the Prime Minister a ''bare-faced, uncaring liar''. Senator Lambie, on Friday took another swipe at Mr Abbott, declaring the Prime Minister needs ''a bucket of cement'' to toughen up if he couldn't cop her criticism. The political rookie isn't fazed by the stir she's caused, and has offered Mr Abbott some free advice about how to handle critics. ''If you're not used to attacks by now then you probably shouldn't be in that position,'' she told the Nine Network on Friday. <="" iframe="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="300" height="250"></div> </div> <a class="news-place-ad-info" href="http://www.examiner.com.au/advertise/">See your ad here</a> <script type="load/lazy"><a href="/advertise/" class="news-place-ad-info">See your ad here</a></script> </div> <!-- Ad counter debug --></div> <p>''You've got one of two choices. You can run and hide or you can say to yourself 'here's a bucket of cement &#8211; toughen up'.''</p> <p>She also rejected suggestions she'd crossed the line by dragging families into the political argy bargy, rehashing her belief that Mr Abbott put his daughters at risk during the election campaign.</p> <p>The former military police officer said there was a fine line between enlisting your family's support and ''parading'' them for political gain.</p> <p>''Let's face it, they are really three gorgeous looking girls,'' she said of Mr Abbott's daughters.</p> <p>''I can only hope that they can stay safe but I guess we'll see what happens in the future.''</p> <p>Senator Wang backed Senator Lambie's comments on Mr Abbott's family, saying ''I wouldn't expose my family to the public too much''.</p> <p>''But obviously it's Mr Tony Abbott's family and they decide what they want to do,'' he said.</p> <p>Education Minister Christopher Pyne said he hoped Senator Lambie reflected 347 on the respect and mutual support that's expected of politicians when she entered the Senate on Monday.</p> <p>''I think Jacqui Lambie and all of us in Canberra should treat each other with the respect that all colleagues deserve,'' he told the Nine Network.</p> <p>But Senator Lambie claimed she hadn't been offered the same courtesy and would keep up the biff, posing a prickly reality for the government as it tries to court the key crossbencher.</p> <p>''You know what, start extending the olive branch or I guess we're going to be playing this game with each other for some time yet,'' she warned.</p> <p>And the outspoken Senator has also declared ''absolute'' intention to nab the country's top job, a post her boss, Clive Palmer, has also made no secret of coveting.</p> <p>''You don't get into politics if you don't want to go all the way,'' she said.</p> <p>''And if you don't have those aspirations, then maybe you shouldn't be here in the first place.''</p> <p>Senator Lambie's says her inspiration is former British prime minister the late Margaret Thatcher, who she credits with common sense, brains and the ability to stand her ground.</p> <p><b>with AAP</b></p> </div> </article> </body> </html> </div></body> </html>  The Age of Blasphemy "To tell the truth and to shoot well with arrows" Stay updated via RSS  Archive for the ‘Tony Abbott’ Category “Egging on the Bolter … “ Posted: February 22, 2015 in Australian politics, Mad Monk, Right Wing, Right Wing Nuts, Tony Abbott Tags: Andrew Bolt, Lunatic Right, Mad monk, Tony Abbott, War monger, Wingnuts 348 0 1 Vote Egging on the Bolter … Framed, a classic set up, unsourced rumours, gutless, unnamed Liberal heroes, and where are the leftist feminists defending Peta Credlin? The lefties, they fight for a side, not for a principle. You know, the principle of unprincipled abuse – or was it just complete blindness? When it gets to that level, feel free to give the pond a call. We’ll do our feminist best … Sorry, you might have already guessed, the pond broke a golden rule, and watched a few minutes of the Bolter in a furious condition of indignation, consternation, shock, outrage and horror at the way the Abbott is being set up for a fall. 349 Anyway, what’s wrong with throwing up a few good ideas for discussion – like suggesting that dinkum Aussies organise a unilateral invasion of Iraq … You know, just floating a thought bubble, just putting a wacky zany idea out there, just running the idea up a flag pole and seeing if anyone salutes, just seeing if some of the chewing gum sticks to the wall, just throwing it into the cloud so everyone can see it and run it past the taste buds to see if it’s got enough bite.You know, barn and brain storming … Sorry, don’t worry if it’s actually a dumb as stick idea. I mean, if you’re afraid of socking the world with your best ideas, why that’s how so many great, inventive ideas get lost. Naturally the Bolter,saw signs of hope and change in his man, before moving on to denounce click bait stories and the shocking behaviour of Murdochians, who’d troll their mother for a dollar … Everybody on the panel seemed to agree the reptiles of Oz were the lowest of the low, regularly abusing government and running nonsensical, devious, gutter snipe stories, full of innuendo and rumour and rarely a grain of truth. Sheesh, they even bagged the Howard government over the wheat scandal … what an appalling thing to do. Everyone knows that was one of the Howard government’s finest hours … just ask Michael Kroger … What a disgusting paper the lizard Oz is! And the buggers are still at it, unrepentant. Coming at Abbott in wave after wave, like hordes of Japanese soldiers in the second world war, armed with weapons provided by pig iron Bob: Yes, just when did he stop beating his wife … 350 He’s refused to answer questions about “informal ideas”. As if having a great informal idea was some sort of crime … And that’s why this country is bereft of bright ideas. Bright generals like Abbott are now too frightened to lead with their very best thinking … And look, the bloody shameless reptiles have even used footage of the Bolter’s report to illustrate their story. Have they no shame? What’s that you say? News Corp produces the Bolter’s report? It’s the only way he can get on the box? So when the Bolter blathers on about merging the ABC and SBS, and slashing their budgets, he’s actually just another conflicted, self-interested leech or tick on chairman Rupert’s purse? Well fancy that, lordy lordy, lah di dah … Time for the pond to deliver its usual sophisticated, elegant insight into the world of the commentariat. Take it away Bald Archies, and more baldness here and there.  Like this: Follies of the Mad Monk | A tweet and a leak too far … “fight back from the far right ratbags” Posted: February 22, 2015 in Far Right, Mad Monk, Tony Abbott Tags: Abbott, Mad monk, pond, Tony Abbott, War monger 0 351 Related articles Abbott’s brazen Gonski backflip (smh.com.au) Brief Review; New Australian PM signifies further right-wing shift (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com) An Open Letter to Abbott voters (victoriarollison.com) An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com) Double Gonski backflip just brazen politicking (theage.com.au) J.R.R. Tolkien biopic in works, but will it explore author’s Catholicism? (examiner.com) Meet the Catholic extremists who could shatter the church (salon.com) Is Tony Abbott a sociopath? (progressivesteaparty.wordpress.com) CATHOLIC FASCISM The Age of Blasphemy "To tell the truth and to shoot well with arrows" Stay updated via RSS 352 Recent Posts The Kochs & the Nazis: Book Reveals Billionaires’ Father Built Key Oil Refinery for the Third Reich A Jewish ISIS Rises in the West Bank Arizona Woman Shoots And Kills Atheist For Not Believing In God American Christian Fascist Lawmaker: Convert To Christianity Or Be ‘Destroyed’ Mother Teresa: Sadistic Religious Fanatic Why I Hate God’s Grace: An Atheist’s Three Reasons Death Cult Christianity Islamist and Christianist; Which One is More the Oppressive Cretin? On Those Worthless Prayers For Paris The Bankrupt “Ethics” of Jesus The Latest Trend In Christianity: Beating Your Wife For Jesus Rudd/Gillard adviser: Abbott drums up Islamophobia to help his election chances How the Vatican Manipulates the American Democratic Process More Corruption! Tony Abbott and Brandis both secretly met with paedophile protector George Pell. Why? Far Right, Theocratic Fascism | Reclaim Australia Dominated by a Christian Cult Leader Conspiracism Is Australia becoming a police state? The secret history of fascism in Australia 27 Bizarre, Wacky Christian Book Titles That Will Make Your Eye Twitch Apostasy & Islam: Saying no to faith Archives Archive for the ‘Tony Abbott’ Category 353 “Egging on the Bolter … “ Posted: February 22, 2015 in Australian politics, Mad Monk, Right Wing, Right Wing Nuts, Tony Abbott Tags: Andrew Bolt, Lunatic Right, Mad monk, Tony Abbott, War monger, Wingnuts 0 1 Vote Egging on the Bolter … Framed, a classic set up, unsourced rumours, gutless, unnamed Liberal heroes, and where are the leftist feminists defending Peta Credlin? The lefties, they fight for a side, not for a principle. You know, the principle of unprincipled abuse – or was it just complete blindness? When it gets to that level, feel free to give the pond a call. We’ll do our feminist best … Sorry, you might have already guessed, the pond broke a golden rule, and watched a few minutes of the Bolter in a furious condition of indignation, consternation, shock, outrage and horror at the way the Abbott is being set up for a fall. Anyway, what’s wrong with throwing up a few good ideas for discussion – like suggesting that dinkum Aussies organise a unilateral invasion of Iraq … 354 You know, just floating a thought bubble, just putting a wacky zany idea out there, just running the idea up a flag pole and seeing if anyone salutes, just seeing if some of the chewing gum sticks to the wall, just throwing it into the cloud so everyone can see it and run it past the taste buds to see if it’s got enough bite.You know, barn and brain storming … Sorry, don’t worry if it’s actually a dumb as stick idea. I mean, if you’re afraid of socking the world with your best ideas, why that’s how so many great, inventive ideas get lost. Naturally the Bolter,saw signs of hope and change in his man, before moving on to denounce click bait stories and the shocking behaviour of Murdochians, who’d troll their mother for a dollar … Everybody on the panel seemed to agree the reptiles of Oz were the lowest of the low, regularly abusing government and running nonsensical, devious, gutter snipe stories, full of innuendo and rumour and rarely a grain of truth. Sheesh, they even bagged the Howard government over the wheat scandal … what an appalling thing to do. Everyone knows that was one of the Howard government’s finest hours … just ask Michael Kroger … What a disgusting paper the lizard Oz is! And the buggers are still at it, unrepentant. Coming at Abbott in wave after wave, like hordes of Japanese soldiers in the second world war, armed with weapons provided by pig iron Bob: Yes, just when did he stop beating his wife … He’s refused to answer questions about “informal ideas”. As if having a great informal idea was some sort of crime … And that’s why this country is bereft of bright ideas. Bright generals like Abbott are now too frightened to lead with their very best thinking … And look, the bloody shameless reptiles have even used footage of the Bolter’s report to illustrate their story. Have they no shame? What’s that you say? News Corp produces the Bolter’s report? It’s the only way he can get on the box? 355 So when the Bolter blathers on about merging the ABC and SBS, and slashing their budgets, he’s actually just another conflicted, self-interested leech or tick on chairman Rupert’s purse? Well fancy that, lordy lordy, lah di dah … Time for the pond to deliver its usual sophisticated, elegant insight into the world of the commentariat. Take it away Bald Archies, and more baldness here and there. Like this: Follies of the Mad Monk | A tweet and a leak too far … “fight back from the far right ratbags” Posted: February 22, 2015 in Far Right, Mad Monk, Tony Abbott Tags: Abbott, Mad monk, pond, Tony Abbott, War monger 0 1 Vote A tweet and a leak too far … 356 The pond was in a state of wild excitement. Would the rest of the pack of hounds pick up on the story of Abbott the war monger this tabloid Sunday, or would they go to water? Was it just one rabid dog in the pack, frothing and foaming at the mouth? Would the pond have to settle for the tweets too far, the link to Abbott’s war movie hashtag, thoughtfully provided by a reader and available here. That one’s not far off the mark. The warrior has regularly shown his military style: 357 Careful, it’s gone off like a bomb: Sadly, it seems that the rest of the pack have left it to the rabid dog to do the work, but that dog still has a bit of bite, a canny capacity to nip at the heels of the user of weasel words like “formal” and “fanciful”: Uh huh. Where does that leave the Bolter calling foul? Well actually it leaves the Bolter in a state of despair, but that despair’s all about another leak. Look, there on the top right of the page, you can just see the yarn: Oh no, not the HUN, not the home of the Bolter. Let’s zoom in a little. ECU please, DOP: Now you can easily find Samantha Maiden’s EXCLUSIVE story – it’s spread right across the Sunday Murdoch tabloids and it’s in the Sunday Terror as PM scuttled secret plan to kick millionaires off the aged pension. 358 The story itself is pretty much what might be expected from Mr. Fairness and his crew – a concern about their own necks, and avoiding looking like they’d broken yet another election promise, compounded with a desire to protect the wealthy, and instead inflict the maximum amount of pain on everyone: Yes, jolly Joe was in on the caper too. But the real point of the yarn comes in the third par. “In another stunning leak from the nation’s most powerful cabinet committee …” The rats are now working with a giant sieve, and however you look at it, Abbott is toast, dead meat walking … Which brings the pond back to the Bolter, now in a deep funk. Oh it’s vicious sabotage alright, betrayers, smearers, exaggerators, traitors, treacherous back stabbers and rat finks. And worst of all, it’s being done by and with the Murdoch rags … and if big Malaise gets the gig, the fight back from the far right ratbags will be something to behold … This is, to borrow a phrase, the best of times, and the best of times … Raptors feuding over turf, and the black knight mortally wounded … It means today will be a day of relaxation and merriment at the pond, as we now wait on Monday, and that promised trip into the bunker … Yes, the pond will be taking the tour inside the bunker, just before the fearless leader seizes the moment to pound the drums of paranoia and xenophobia, whipping up fear, anger and hatred by blathering on about national security… … though if you pause a moment to reflect, it hardly seems necessary. He’s already achieved his goal: 359 That story, with links, is at the Graudian here. Naturally the likes of the Bolter are wildly indignant. The Islamic barbarian hordes are gathering at the gates, and we’re all doomed, doomed I tells ya … Luckily, there’s a simple answer. We need to put the country on a war footing. Thank the long absent lord there’s a natural leader to hand, a genuine Churchillian, robust and willing to do the hard yards, with a solid team behind him. Don’t worry about munitions and ordnance and kit. That’s all in hand: Now let’s get on with the party: Like this: Is Tony Abbott a Sociopath? 360 Posted: November 28, 2013 in Australian politics, Right Wing, Sociopath, Tony Abbott Tags: George Pell, German, Gina Rinehart, Howard Zinn, Matt Damon, Rupert Murdoch, sociopath, Theodore Millon, Tony Abbott 0 3 Votes Is Tony Abbott a sociopath? BY TURNLEFT2013 BY Turn Left (Alison Parkes) with Penny Carter, first published on Progressives Tea Party, reproduced with permission Actually, I have no idea whether Tony Abbott is a sociopath or not. I am not a psychiatrist. I am also not going to put up a list of Hare’s traits of a sociopath checklist and then trawl through Tony Abbott’s long history of violence, bullying, intimidation and abuse to find instances of quotes or actions that may correspond with that checklist. 361 What I will do, is put up Hare’s checklist, and let readers draw their own conclusions, not about whether Tony Abbott is a sociopath, or not… but whether the entire country as a whole needs some time on the leather couch talking about our feelings, our childhoods and our mothers: • glibness • superficial charm • grandiose sense of self-worth • need for stimulation • proneness to boredom • pathological lying • cunning • manipulative behaviour • lack of remorse • shallow affect [superficial emotional responses] • callousness • lack of empathy • parasitic lifestyle • poor behavioural control • lack of realistic long-term goals • promiscuity • impulsivity • irresponsibility • failure to accept responsibility [for their own actions] 1 • criminal versatility • relying on sociological strategies and tricks to deceive The problem is not so much that there are sociopaths, they have always existed, and will always exist in our societies. The problem is we keep electing them to govern over us, then bizarrely, expect they will govern inour best interests. Like a nation of sheep we bought the lies and myths propagated in the Murdoch and Murdoch mini-me (ABC) media about how Tony is a changed person. Not even three months in, and that choice at the ballot box is proving disastrous. The almost cult-like worshiping of the thug who conned his way into the Lodge means our media has to tell us on a daily basis that black is white in order to maintain 362 the illusion that Tony Abbott is the new messiah who will save Australia from the regional peace and AAA prosperity that Labor delivered us. This is not who we are, there is nothing peculiarly Australian that requires us to vote in a violent, abusive, bullying man to become Prime Minister. Just as there was nothing in the German people in the 1920s and ’30s that meant they were more likely to vote in a fascist government. The only question is why they continued to support the fascist government, when it become blindingly obvious their leader was a dictator. As Howard Zinn said: “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience… Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… [and] the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.” (A video of Matt Damon reading that full speech can be found here…) The lust for power, the easy access to the bottomless ATM known as taxpayers, the ability to get courts and federal police to bend to your will, is a lure so strong that those with evil and malevolent intentions find it difficult to resist. For these people, the ends justifies the means. The ‘ends’ being access to unlimited power, the ‘means’ is throw anyone under the bus that gets in their way. The trouble is, when the elected officials use lies, propaganda and intimidation to get there, they need to reproduce those tactics on a much larger scale to maintain their position of power, then our democracy gets thrown under that bus. Do we still think our elected leaders act in the best interest of our country? As recent events in the US has shown, the Right Wing Teaparty republicans were prepared to crash the US economy by hitting the debt ceiling because they are ideologically opposed to poor people getting medical care that doesn’t result in bankruptcy. Our current government (it seems) is governing for the benefit of select few – Tony Abbott, George Pell, Gina Rinehart, Rupert Murdoch. This current governments policies are ideological, and designed to transform our environment to maximise profits for mining magnate Rinehart, transform our economy to benefit a foreign billionaire Murdoch, push the stone-age values of a 363 religious institution, and our work place laws to benefit a handful of foreign corporation and not millions of people who work for their wages. We, as a nation, have surrendered our freedom, optimism, compassion, generosity, empathy, in exchange for security* and ended up with neither. * an illusion of security, both budget and border. I say illusion because the crises that Liberals promise to save us from exist only in their own minds and in newspaper headlines, and do not reflect reality. Our budget under Labor was not an ‘emergency’, it was one of the best in the world, our borders are not in crisis because of a couple of boats. Source: Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior edited by Theodore Millon, Erik Simonsen, Morten Birket-Smith, Roger D. Davis (2003) Related articles  Is Tony Abbott a sociopath? (theaimn.com)  PM Tony Abbott; Personally and Politically Rooted in Fascist Catholicism (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)  Is Tony Abbott a sociopath? (progressivesteaparty.wordpress.com)  Broken promises to haunt Abbott (smh.com.au)  Yes, we are independent and this is why (theaimn.com)  Gonski may be Abbott’s Achilles heel (smh.com.au)  The Racial Bacillus: Eradicating the Wog (nuovonovalis.wordpress.com)  The leaders we deserve? (hieronymous.net)  364 Like this: PM Tony Abbott; Personally and Politically Rooted in Fascist Catholicism Posted: November 26, 2013 in Catholic Fascism, Tony Abbott Tags: Australian Catholicism, Australian Labor Party, B. A. Santamaria, Bob Santamaria, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Democratic Labor Party, Justin Simonds, Maxine McKew, Santamaria, Tony Abbott 1 2 Votes Abbott and Santamaria’s undemocratic Catholicism by Paul Collins 365 I grew up surrounded by the Democratic Labor Party, the ‘Movement’, Jesuit Father Harold Lalor and the Labor split. My parents distributed how-to-vote cards for the DLP. My uncle edited the Richmond News for the federal member for Yarra, Stan Keon, one of the Labor MPs who defected to the Anti-Communist Labor Party. That same uncle worked full-time for the Movement and was later Victorian country organiser for the right wing Clerks Union. My parents eventually abandoned the DLP because of its extremism, and when Bob Santamaria attacked me in 1986 over my book Mixed Blessings my uncle severed all contact with him. So I don’t look back with nostalgia to either Santamaria or the Movement. I experienced the toxic divisiveness. Apparently unlike Tony Abbott who, at the January 2007 launch of Santamaria’s Selected Letters said, ‘I was lucky to know B. A. Santamaria for the last 22 years of his life, to have attended diligently to his writing and speaking.’ Santamaria, he says ‘left Australian Catholicism more intellectual and less politically tribal’, by which he presumably means there are now Catholics in Coalition as well as Labor ranks. Santamaria’s influence on Abbott’s policies has been much discussed lately by The Australian‘s Paul Kelly, Labor’s Maxine McKew, John Warhurst in Eureka Street, Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald and Robert Manne in The Monthly. Reference has been made to Abbott’s close relationship to Cardinal George Pell, another self-proclaimed disciple of Santamaria. But more important than the influence of particular policies is the ‘type’ of Catholicism Santamaria represented and the subtle, even unconscious influence this might have on Abbott. Essentially Santamaria embraced a form of theological integralism which sees everything in the world as tainted unless it is ‘integrated’ or brought into the orbit of Catholicism. Integralism assumes that the Church has an unchallengeable, complete and accessible body of doctrine that gives guidance in every possible eventuality — social, political, strategic, economic, familial and personal. Integralism defines Catholicism in a particularly narrow, aggressive, ‘boots and all’ way, and argues that Catholic action involves influencing and if possible 366 controlling state policy. Thus Catholics are obliged to do all in their power to ensure that all legislation is in keeping with church doctrine. As Santamaria said in 1948: ‘the most important objective of Christians … [is that they] should be capable of formulating or willing to follow a distinctively Christian policy on every social and public issue.’ But what is a ‘distinctively Christian’ (for ‘Christian’ read ‘Catholic’) policy? For Santamaria this was not a problem. He identified Catholicism with his own vision of faith. He refused to recognise that there were other equally sincere Catholics who had other theological ideas about the relationship of the church to the world and the state, people like Archbishop Justin Simonds, Dr Max Charlesworth, the YCW and the Catholic Worker group, who were influenced by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain and the Belgian Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. Integralism has much in common with Italian Fascism, Franco’s Spain or Salazar’s Portugal. It is also at odds with the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom: ‘Freedom means that all are to be immune from coercion … in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs.’ It is a real threat to democracy and to the freedom that Catholics have to make their own decisions on a whole range of issues, particularly political. Nowadays Santamaria is praised for being an agrarian socialist and anti-capitalist. While this has made him popular with some aging secular leftists, they forget that these movements are romantic, backward-looking, authoritarian and linked with high immigration rates and the mantra ‘populate or perish’ with its racist overtones. So what does this have to do with Abbott? I think it would be worrying if this kind of integralist Catholicism infected contemporary public life. It has no place in a pluralist, democratic state. It is also the manifestation of the kind of Catholicism that was abandoned by serious, mainstream Catholics five decades ago. 367 Abbott is wrong to suggest that it has made Australian Catholicism ‘more intellectual’. It is, in fact, a form of doctrinaire conformism that is the death of thoughtful commitment and is the antithesis of a faith seeking to base itself in reason and understanding. I am not claiming that Abbott consciously follows Santamaria’s integralism. But there is always the danger of osmosis, of absorbing attitudes without realising it. If I were a politician — or an archbishop — I’d want to put considerable distance between myself and the most divisive man in the history of Australian Catholicism. Author and historian Paul Collins is a former specialist editor — religion for the ABC. Related articles  Abbott’s brazen Gonski backflip (smh.com.au)  Brief Review; New Australian PM signifies further right-wing shift (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)  An Open Letter to Abbott voters (victoriarollison.com)  An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)  Double Gonski backflip just brazen politicking (theage.com.au)  J.R.R. Tolkien biopic in works, but will it explore author’s Catholicism? (examiner.com)  Meet the Catholic extremists who could shatter the church (salon.com)  Is Tony Abbott a sociopath? (progressivesteaparty.wordpress.com) 368  CATHOLIC FASCISM  Like this: Tony Abbott; War Pigs – War criminals and those who “accept” their crimes Posted: November 25, 2013 in Catholic Fascists, Genocide, Tony Abbott, War, War criminals, War Pigs Tags: Cambodia, crimes against humanity, Iraq, Joseph Kony, Khmer Rouge, Lords Resistance Army, Pol Pot, Pol Pot Slobodan Milosevic, Rwanda, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Tony Abbott, War crime, War Crimes 1 1 Vote War Pigs – War criminals and those who “accept” their crimes The last 50 years have seen some fantastic events and seen some huge steps forward for mankind, however it has also seen some of the worst than mankind can produce. There have been some atrocities over the last half century that defy belief, and some of those responsible for these acts are even still alive today. Before you delve further down the page I should warn you that there are some graphic images in this post that will upset some people, so please don’t say you were not warned. 369 In 1998 there would have been hardly a tear shed for the death of Pol Pot, the former dictator and ruthless leader of the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot is credited with the deaths of up to 3 Million Cambodians which made up around a quarter of Cambodia’s total population. Those in his camps were used as slaves and most died of disease and malnutrition, however many others were simply executed or some were killed in the most grotesque ways imaginable for the entertainment of the camp guards. Pol Pot died whilst under house arrest in his bed. Pol Pot Slobodan Milosevic was another one who got off lucky, dying of a heart attack in his prison whilst awaiting trial on March 11th 2006. Milosevic was awaiting trial for war crimes that included ethnic cleansing and genocide. Known as the “Butcher Of The Balkans” he presided over the deaths of more than 200,000 people over 10 years in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. …and the winner of the older Geert Wilders look alike contest is…. Slobodan Milosevic In 1994 The Rwandan genocide occurred while the world watched on for approximately 100 days and did little. 370 The genocide was carried out by the Hutus who massacred somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,0000 Tutsis in the most brutal of fashions. In 1998 Jean-Paul Akayesu, a Rwandan politician and mayor of a commune, was sentenced to life imprisonment for 9 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity which included the rape and sexual mutilation of women. Rwanda’s very own shock-jocks Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza were both given life sentences in October 2000 for inciting and encouraging the massacre throughout their broadcasts. Also serving a life sentence for his part in the genocide is Jean Kambanda who was the Prime Minister of Rwanda during the genocide. Bodiesn a field in Rwanda We all remember the hunt for former Iraqi Dictator and war criminal Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own citizens, massacred thousands of Kurds and his own citizens, and after the Gulf War evidence of torture was discovered that appeared to be state sanctioned and carried out by members of Hussein’s Republican Guard. Saddam Hussein was eventually captured after being pulled out of a hole in the ground in Decemer 2003. 371 After facing trial for crimes against humanity Saddam Hussein was given the death penalty and was hung on the 30th December 2006 For the people of Iraq who faced years of fear and oppression under Saddam’s rule, his death was a cause for celebration. Saddam Hussein For those who suffered at the hands of Pol Pot and Milosevic it must have seemed cruel to see them both escape punishment so easily and die a relatively peaceful death when they themselves had been so inhumane and cruel in their bringing about the deaths of others. However it is not just these people who need to face investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity. One would have had to be hiding in a hole like Saddam Hussein to have missed Kony 2012. The social media campaign to try and bring about the tracking down, capture and conviction of Joseph Kony, thought to be hiding out in the Congo. Joseph Kony is the leader of the “Lords Resistance Army” thought to have recruited over 30,000 children for use as soldiers. Child soldiers recruited often kill their family while young girls are captured and used as sex slaves for the young soldiers. It is not known how many have been killed by Kony and his forces although conservative estimates by the UN put the number at over 100,000. Many of these deaths are amongst the 372 most shocking and cruel deaths imaginable as soldiers compete to see who is the cruellest amongst them. Joseph Kony is still at large. Joseph Kony We have all seen in news broadcasts over the past few years the atrocities that are ongoing in the civil war in Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad has been accused of war crimes with calls for action against his regime coming from all over the globe. Assads regime has been notorious for war crimes against men women and children including massacres, torture, and evidence of the use of chemical weapons. Victims of Assad’s regime The UN expects more than 5 Million refugees to come from Syria by the end of 2014 as a result of Assad’s rule. Estimates on the death toll have varied with the UN saying that it is most certainly over 100,000. Most of the world has condemned Assad and are keen to bring him to justice and investigate him and his regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity. 373 Victims of Syrian nerve gas attack It is something that is beyond doubt that those who commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity should be hunted down and severely punished for their crimes. Another nation where war crimes such as genocide, torture and ethnic cleansing are reported to have been committed is Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan civil war dragged on for 26 years and saw the deaths of over 100,000 people, mostly civilians. One incident towards the end of the war saw 300,000 civilians trapped on a narrow beach, 40,000 of these civilians were gunned down by the Sri Lankan army and many atrocities were alleged to have been committed. The man in charge of the Sri Lankan military was Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Last week the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka was boycotted by Canada, India , and Mauritius as a protest against the human rights abuses and war crimes that have yet to see action taken. British Conservative Prime Minister was also keen to address the violations of human rights and see Sri Lanka investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Cameron stated during a press conference 374 “Let me be very clear. If an investigation is not completed by March, then I will use our position on the United Nations human rights council to work with the UN human rights commission and call for a full credible and independent international inquiry.” It is clear that the British along with many other nations calling for justice for the countless thousands of innocent civilians that were tortured and massacred, men, women and children. Not to be outdone, Tony Abbott weighed in on the discussions and when questioned about the massacre and torture of civilians stated; “We accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen” I have never heard of a country being given a free pass for genocide and torture before, and those who committed some of the atrocities must be pleased to hear that someone accepts what they have done. Tony Abbott – Accepts Sri Lankan torture and genocide, but won’t accept Sri Lankan refugees The photo’s below are of some of the atrocities that Tony Abbott has accepted on our behalf when he uses the word “We” However Tony Abbott not only accepted their actions, which he says must have been difficult as I’m sure they were for those on the receiving end, but he also thought that giving a couple of gifts was appropriate. 375 A massacred Sri Lankan family David Cameron calls for war crimes investigations, Tony Abbott gives away gifts. So what gift is appropriate to give a nation who used its military to commit massacres and other crimes against humanity? More military equipment of course. A woman raped and murdered by Sri Lankan military soldiers Tony Abbott has given the Sri Lankan government two Navy Patrol Boats for them to use in any way they see fit in return for them clamping down on asylum seekers fleeing the country due to tensions that still exist and seeing their family members executed in many cases. A butchered Sri Lankan child The gift of military boats to the nation the UN accuses of war crimes costs the taxpayer $2 Million. The cynical may say Abbott is trying to emulate his idol John Howard who allegedly paid bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime via the Australian Wheat Board. 376 The use of the boats as mentioned is totally unrestricted, the Sri Lankans can arm them with whatever weaponry they like. Fairfax reported on 19th November about the actions of a similar Sri Lankan patrol boat at the end of the civil war when it came across civilians on a fishing boat. ”We held two white flags and on seeing the navy we called them, ‘Aiya, Aiya [Sir, Sir]‘. There was sudden shelling and eight died on the spot … navy hit, navy attacked and many people died.” A message needs to be sent to Tony Abbott that his actions and his words on this matter are not just inappropriate, they are truly sickening. More rape and murder in Sri Lanka As a nation we do not accept, endorse, or tolerate genocide or torture, it goes against everything we should be standing for. Tony Abbott, when you claim “we” accept this, you sure as hell don’t speak for me. With thanks, via http://wixxyleaks.com/ 377 Related articles  France warns that the Central African Republic is ‘on the verge of genocide’ (independent.co.uk)  War Pigs – War criminals and those who “accept” their crimes (wixxyleaks.com) An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes Posted: November 9, 2013 in Laurie Oakes, Tony Abbott Tags: Abbott, Abbott government, Australia, Laurie Oakes, Peta Credlin, Politics of Australia, Prime Minister, Prime Minister Tony Abbott., Tony Abbott 5 1 Vote 378 An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes By Victoria Rollison Dear Laurie Oakes I am writing seeking clarification. I can’t help but notice that you seem to be a little confused about your appraisal of the performance of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. I’m wondering if you perhaps want to rethink your description of Abbott, the Prime Minister, in the book you have been trying to flog – Remarkable Times – Australian Politics 2010-13: What really happened. I won’t pretend to have read this book. In fact, I found it near impossible to read even an extract, so predictable and so utterly boring and so obviously not about ‘what really happened’. You see, Laurie, between 2010-13, what really happened bore so little resemblance to what you and your fellow political journalist hacks reported as happening, you are the last person I would go to for insights about Australian politics in Australia across any period, let alone the previous three years. 379 But, without having read it, I think I’m safe to assume your book has a similar theme to all your political reporting between 2010-13, summed up concisely in this extract. Describing Abbott’s first 11 days as Prime Minister, you say his behaviour over these 11 days is evidence of his new approach to government as being “careful and methodical”, where Abbott would “behave in a way that was ‘clear, consistent and coherent’”. In contrast, you explain the difference between Abbott’s government and the previous Labor government using these words: “But as far as the public and the media were concerned, it was 11 days of unaccustomed quiet after the Labor years of crisis, chaos and constant politicking. No-one complained. The nation was over politics and welcomes a respite”. When you say ‘clear, consistent and coherent’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to explain, without scrutiny, what Peta Credlin wants Australians to think an Abbott government is going to be like. When you say ‘crisis, chaos and constant politicking’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to describe, without fact, the approach of the Labor government. When you say ‘no-one complained’, you’re not talking for me, you’re saying Peta Credlin was without complaint. When you say ‘the nation was over politics and welcomes a respite’, you are again speaking for Peta Credlin and saying what Peta Credlin hoped the nation felt, when in actual fact the only politics the intelligent part of this nation was ‘over’ was your false brand of horserace, completely lacking in policy detail, substance and fact. And this is what I mean when I say you are predictable, you are unreliable, you are presumptuous in speaking for people you know nothing about, and most importantly, you are wrong. 380 But here’s where I think you’ve suddenly come unstuck. The real performance of the Abbott government, only weeks into the job, has proven how wrong you have been. Because reality doesn’t lie. Perhaps you thought all your Christmases had come at once, when you got the Abbott government you had wished for, and campaigned for all those years. But like a child who is promised a brighter future, and instead ends up with a sack of coal, the Abbott government has actually turned out to be just as incompetent, just as immature, just as dangerous and just as down-right unintelligent as people like me warned people like you it was going to be between 2010-13 and before. So you have found out the hard way ‘what really happened’. But your book is out now, and it’s too late to correct your inaccurate record. Apparently you seem to be coming to terms with this grave error, with the news this week that you’re unhappy with the Abbott government’s secretive modus operandi. Whereas in your book you say, in an appreciative tone: “Here was a Prime Minister-elect obviously serious about not feeding the hungry media beast”, and by beast, I assume you mean people like you who love words like ‘chaos’, ‘crisis’, ‘scandal’ and of course ‘JuLiar’. Yet, only a few weeks later, you somewhat ironically backflip on this appreciation, having been quoted as saying: “You (Abbott) can’t thumb your nose at the voters’ right to know and you can’t arrogantly say ‘we’ll let the voters be misinformed and we won’t help journalists get it right’. That’s just a disgusting attitude.” 381 I happen to agree with you, Laurie, that keeping voters uninformed is a pretty disgusting and arrogant attitude. And to this, I will say two things – pot kettle black, and, what the fuck did you expect? You have kept voters uninformed by completely failing to scrutinise what Abbott was going to do as Prime Minister. You perpetuated the utterly ridiculous notion that Abbott could move from nasty, messy, attack-dog to mature, competent Prime Minister. I’m sorry Laurie, but this concept is idiotic. An incompetent, lazy, rude, mean, un-charismatic, unreliable, unintelligent, misogynistic, unscrupulous, inarticulate thug is always going to be all of these things, whether he lives in the Lodge with his apparently attractive daughters or not. He wasn’t just all of these things when he was Opposition Leader because it suited his agenda at the time. It’s not a coat he can just take off. This is it. This is Tony Abbott. With Peta Credin barking instructions into his earpiece. This is Tony Abbott. Have you ever considered why Abbott’s office has disappeared into the cone of silence? Have you considered it’s because they’re completely over their heads and don’t actually have any idea what to say about their revolting plans for this country? This is not some grand master plan. This is a grand retreat into nothingness. This is incompetence personified. You and some of your colleagues don’t like that Abbott’s not telling you stuff. No doubt this has nothing to do with concern for the Australian community and how informed they are, and rather more to do with your difficulty in finding something to talk about, having relied on press releases from Peta Credlin, complete with Abbott’s talking points, and leaks from Rudd for all those years. But guess what Laurie, this is the least of the problems we, the informed public, have with Tony Abbott. 382 I’m less concerned with what he’s not saying, and more concerned, if concerned is a strong enough a word, with what he is doing. Handing responsibility for massively important decisions about government spending to a business lobbyist. Cutting funding to scientific research. Embarrassing Australia on the global stage. Slashing and burning public sector jobs. Ripping up future-proofing infrastructure by destroying the NBN. Raising the debt ceiling to all time highs with no explanation as to why just weeks after claiming a ‘budget emergency’. Cancelling the Carbon Price for an expensive joke of a Direct Action Policy which is beyond humiliating for the country, right at the same time when the public are finally starting to realise that electricity bills are not more important than the safety of the planet. Lying about deals he’s made with Indonesia to turn back boats and pretending the very act of him becoming Prime Minister has stopped the boats. Not to mention the real ‘chaos’ and ‘crisis’ which Abbott refuses to address – his and his minister’s fraudulent use of taxpayer funds for expensive travel and accommodation for their own egos and personal entertainment. And you thought Julia Gillard’s dodgy ex-boyfriend from 20 years ago constituted a ‘scandal’ because some nut-job internet troll said so? You still said she had ‘questions to answer’ even after she answered every snide and absurd question you are your malicious colleagues in the National Press Club could conjure up? Seriously Laurie, you have no right to tell anyone ‘what really happened’. You’ve been negligent to the extreme in informing the public what to expect from an Abbott government. Now you’re worried that Abbott’s secretive non-consultative strategy is keeping voters misinformed? I really hope you don’t live in a glass house with a ready collection of stones. Moving on to ‘what the fuck did you expect’. You seem quite surprised now that Abbott isn’t turning out the way you anticipated. So I say again, what the fuck did you expect? Did you fall for the ‘they are just the same’ tactic, used to refute people like me who said, for years, 383 that Abbott was going to be a disaster again and again and again no matter whether people wanted to hear it or not? Whenever I think of Abbott, and what a setback he is for Australia, I can’t help but hear the words of Paul Keating from this interview in 2010 where he said: “If Tony Abbott ends up as Prime Minister of Australia, you’ve got to say, God help us, God help us. A truly intellectual nobody. And no policy ambition. You know, I mean, is that all there is?” As I knew, and as you are quickly learning, Abbott is all there is. And thanks to the lack of scrutiny of him by people like you before the election, Australia is stuck with him. For one term at least. And now you’re saying you’re not happy with Abbott’s performance? Spare a thought for people like me, who saw it coming and are now justified to say over and over again – ‘I told you so’. Yours Sincerely Victoria Rollison Related articles  An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (victoriarollison.com)  Laurie Oakes slams Abbott government (theage.com.au)  An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (theaimn.com)  Laurie Oakes hits out at Tony Abbott (smh.com.au)  An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (nickthiwerspoon.wordpress.com) The Monthly Essays Inside Tony Abbott's mind This is serious By Waleed Aly 384 July 2013 1/3 © John Woudstra / Fairfax Syndication July 2013Medium length read Tony Abbott was the man who could never be prime minister. “He’s just too right-wing,” a colleague told the Courier-Mail. “Too hardline,” said another to Abbott’s face. “He’s very much a mid-20th century sort of a bloke,” declared Labor strategist Bruce Hawker in early June, only to be trumped the following evening by Kevin Rudd, on the 7.30 program, who called him “one of the most extreme right-wing conservative leaders or politicians that the Liberal Party has thrown up”. Advertisement <="" iframe="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="300" height="600"></div> <iframe name="google_ads_iframe_/1042965/Monthly_Essay_BodyRight_300x600_0__hidden__" id="google_ads_iframe_/1042965/Monthly_Essay_BodyRight_300x600_0__hidden__" src="javascript:&quot;<html><body style='background:transparent'></body></html>"" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" style="border: 0px currentColor; border-image: none; vertical-align: bottom; display: none; visibility: hidden;" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="0" height="0"&gt; From the front page The cult of the arseholeAustralia should have a long, hard think about the kind of people we prioritiseDiabolicalWhy have we failed to address climate change? Weighted to the downsideNotes from Davos and predictions for 2016Live from MexchesterMexrrissey at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney Festival, 23 January 2016Not so exciting timesMalcolm Turnbull needs to make some tough decisions before 2016 gets away from him Di Natale vs the GreensThe Greens leader is at odds with his party on the risks of GMO crops Flamin’ legendKev Carmody at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney Festival, 17 January 385 2016Between the linesMaking sense of the adult colouring crazeGesture politicsRecognition alone won’t fix indigenous affairs Abbott took the Liberal Party leadership from Malcolm Turnbull at a time when conventional wisdom considered support for an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) politically mandatory, then proceeded to campaign vociferously against exactly that. Within seven months he had seen off the once-invincible Rudd, and within two more almost defeated a first-term government at the ballot box, forcing it to minority status. Since then, his grip on Labor’s throat has only tightened. Now he sits on the verge of victory. People will have their expectations – and especially their suspicions – but no one really knows how Abbott would act as prime minister. Even his colleagues are unsure. There are some very specific big-ticket items – such as his parental leave scheme and his determination to rescind the carbon tax – but the latter is something to be opposed, and the Liberal party room detests the former. His industrial relations policy is vague, and seems a cautious distance from WorkChoices and the reforms so many in his party and in business want to see. “Abbott looks set to become a do-nothing PM,” Peter van Onselen recently opined in the Australian. Van Onselen was voicing the concerns of more than a few of Abbott’s colleagues, who fear being handed power with no mandate and no agenda. That’s certainly not the way his progressive critics see him. To them, Abbott is the hyper- Catholic, overly aggressive, climate change–denying, homophobic, sexist populist who wants to impose his idiosyncratic religious views on an unwilling public. Julia Gillard would never use quite those terms, but she came close with her recent prediction that an Abbott government would “banish women’s voices from our political life” and make abortion “the political plaything of men who think they know better”. This Abbott is the embodiment of everything the last five decades of social progress have strived to overcome. Thus he is cast as essentially regressive: a creature of the past, intending to take us all back there. His foes are maddened that the nation apparently cannot see what seems so obvious to them: Abbott is shallow, devious and so frighteningly backwards that no sane person would hand him power. The urge to dismiss Abbott underestimates him completely, both as a politician and as a thinker: Tony Abbott is a serious person 386 The trouble with this caricature is that it rests on contradictions. Abbott cannot be both a shameless populist and a man of unshakeable retrograde convictions. He can’t be driven to say anything to get elected, while also insistently inflicting his unpopular religious views on the electorate. This is the conundrum of Tony Abbott to many of his critics (and not a few of his supporters). Hence the frequent claims of hypocrisy. Abbott is many things. Too many things, really. He’s the “conviction politician” who frequently and spectacularly changes his mind. He’s the conservative who cherishes our institutions and constitutional arrangements, but would like to alter them radically to enable a massive federal takeover of health and education. His two greatest and most frequently cited influences are Bob Santamaria and John Howard. Santamaria was a Democratic Labor Party Catholic archetype, the kind who utterly despised the moral depredations and social ravages of capitalism. Howard is the author of WorkChoices, perhaps the most pro-capitalist, antisocial legislation of the past decade. They represented opposing brands of politics. Dig a little deeper, though, and there’s a consistency to Abbott. He is aware, for instance, that his centralist views sit oddly with both the conservative and liberal preferences for diversified power. He counters this with a reasoned argument of his own: where it is clear that the federal system is failing to deal with the contemporary demands of our health service, “the logic of the states’ rights position is that theory trumps practice” – which itself violates the tenets of conservative thought. At times he shows blind spots. Abbott has no place for longer, more irregular working hours as an explanation for why we’re seeing an increased incidence of relationship breakdowns, for instance. But his understanding of politics and society is not nearly as haphazard as it sometimes appears. The urge to dismiss him underestimates him completely, both as a politician and as a thinker: Tony Abbott is a serious person. Behind the contrived fluoro-jacketed appearances at workplaces, behind the simplistic sloganeering, is someone with a far more considered view of the world than his critics suppose. Abbott is comprehensible, but only on his own terms. You don’t have to like those terms, but it is possible to grasp them, to get some sense of how Abbott thinks about politics, and why his critics are destined to maintain their visceral rage towards him. The rage begins with his unscrupulous approach to Opposition. All politicians indulge in double standards, but few have done it so unashamedly as Abbott. Examples abound, such as 387 his preparedness to attack Craig Thomson while the allegations against him are before the courts, but his refusal to comment on the Federal Court’s explosive findings against Mal Brough on the flimsy pretext that an appeal might be forthcoming. Similarly, Abbott’s attack on Gillard’s broken carbon-tax promise has made the sanctity of one’s word a litmus test for legitimacy, but he has no compunction about reneging on written agreements that no longer suit him. Most recently he did this over a deal on public funding for political parties. But recall also that in the aftermath of the 2010 election, when each of the major parties was negotiating with the crossbench in the hope of forming minority government, Abbott agreed to a pairing arrangement. This would ensure that whichever side of politics provided the speaker would not be disadvantaged in the House of Representatives by losing the vote of that member, because the other side would forgo a vote of its own. As soon as it became clear that Labor would form government and provide the speaker, Abbott’s Coalition backed out of the agreement. We should not be surprised. Abbott has spent a lot of time thinking about precisely what an Opposition’s job is. He made his intentions abundantly clear immediately on assuming the Liberal Party leadership: Oppositions are not there to get legislation through. Oppositions are there to hold the government to account. And unless we are confident that a piece of legislation is beyond reasonable doubt in the national interest, it is our duty as the Opposition to vote it down. This is the Abbott doctrine. He would not acquiesce unless the only remaining objections were so slight as to be unreasonable. He would approve of nothing that was justified on balance. Abbott would treat the government as though it were the prosecutor in a criminal trial aiming to deprive someone of their liberty. It’s a standard designed to ensure no innocent people are convicted, even if the guilty go free by the hundred. In this way, Abbott was apparently happy to see countless good ideas perish for the sake of preventing a single bad one coming to fruition. Just as a defence lawyer does his opponent no favours, Abbott wouldn’t co-operate to make good legislation better. Here was the ultimate contrast with Turnbull, who had negotiated amendments to Rudd’s ETS. Abbott was emphatically rejecting that deal, and, when asked if he would be willing to negotiate new, more satisfactory amendments, he simply repeated his rejectionist doctrine, in quasi-legal terms: 388 Now, if we are absolutely confident that what the government is doing is beyond reasonable doubt in the national interest, sure, let’s go along with it. But if you’ve got the sort of doubts that we obviously have over this, well, we’re obliged to oppose it. It’s tempting to see this as an extension of Abbott’s personality. Hereabouts we’d typically read of the punches Abbott is alleged to have thrown at his opponents during his university politics days, of his affinity for boxing and the rougher aspects of rugby. No doubt this kind of aggression comes easily to him, and has served him well in running myriad disruptive political campaigns since his undergraduate years, but there’s more thought to it than that. This is a studied approach to the art of opposition. Perhaps the most telling statement in Abbott’s first press conference as leader was his invocation of an old political foe in mounting his anti–ETS argument: Now, I don’t want to spend the rest of my political life quoting Paul Keating, but remember what Paul Keating said in another context. He said, “If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it, and if you do understand it, you’d never vote for it.” With this line, Keating stole John Hewson’s unlosable 1993 election. Abbott spent that election working in Hewson’s office, mostly writing speeches Hewson didn’t use. Hewson was the quintessential constructive Opposition leader, the kind who would rather lose an election than go to one without an agenda, and there was no doubting his agenda in 1993. His Fightback! manifesto was a whopping 650-page tome, providing detailed proposals for radical economic change. Today we remember it for broaching the topic of a GST, but it was far grander than that. It proposed abolishing awards and remaking industrial relations, greatly reducing the availability of bulk billing in Medicare, abolishing payroll taxes, selling off state-owned enterprises, and giving generous tax cuts to middle and upper-middle income earners. In short, it was probably the most comprehensive neoliberal blueprint for Australia ever drawn up as policy. He released it more than a year ahead of the election. The backlash was considerable, leading Hewson to release a revised version a year later, which exempted food and childcare from the GST. As far as policy-making goes, it was a perfectly respectable process. Yet Hewson became the first Opposition leader since the ’60s to give an incumbent government an increased majority. 389 © John Woudstra / Fairfax Syndication In 1994, Hewson was forced to declare Fightback! “dead and buried”. Abbott would later borrow the phrase (adding “cremated”) regarding Howard’s WorkChoices. The imprint of that experience remains. Abbott saw Hewson’s destruction up close. He knows better than most the effectiveness of Keating’s attack in those years, and the dangers of Hewson’s policy- heavy approach. Long before there was any likelihood of Abbott becoming Opposition leader, he had taken his lessons from this. He doesn’t doubt Hewson’s policy gravitas. In fact, he calls him “one of Australia’s most influential policy makers” because “the Keating and Howard governments proceeded to implement most of his agenda”, but also acknowledges that Hewson “failed as a political leader”. For Abbott, then, there is a clear difference between government and Opposition, a conviction forged in the fire of Hewson’s defeat. The two demand different modes of behaviour. As he writes in Battlelines, his recently republished book of 2009: An Opposition party’s main day-to-day task is always to mount an effective critique of the government ... The next Liberal government won’t need to assume office with specific policies on all topics down to the last detail. Too much detail can easily give the government material for a scare campaign. Abbott took over the Liberal leadership from Turnbull, a man who had spent months negotiating in good faith with Kevin Rudd to shape an ETS, and whose reward was seeing Rudd continue to bury him in the polls. Bearing all this in mind, Abbott was never going to be co-operative on an issue that was dividing his party. Abbott knew his task, and it certainly didn’t involve being an active participant in government. As he told The 7.30 Report the evening he became Opposition leader: “You know what I think happened today? We went from being a former government to being a fair dinkum Opposition.” It seems inconceivable to those who see in Abbott only a man whose attitudes are out of step with society’s, but his political judgement is finely honed. His critique of Rudd’s prime ministership, with its fatal micro-management and sidelining of the cabinet – written when Rudd was soaring in the polls – proved exactly right. The year before it happened, he foresaw that Rudd would “soon find himself under pressure from his ambitious deputy” (though he could have never predicted the extraordinary manner of Rudd’s axing). He warned John 390 Howard that the abolition of the no-disadvantage test under WorkChoices was foolhardy and “was always going to look as though we were exposing vulnerable people to danger”. This “catastrophic political blunder” would cost the Coalition its “blue-collar conservatives”, who mattered more than the “doctors’ wives” to its electoral prospects. When polls were showing that the electorate wanted action on climate change, Abbott saw that Australians nonetheless would be “unlikely to support policy changes that they think might make daily life harder or much more expensive”. He also noted that most wanted more information about the ETS they were supporting, and that about half opposed an ETS being introduced before the rest of the world declared its position at the Copenhagen conference. His gamble against the will of the electorate was anything but. What looked to be a rejection of public opinion was in fact a very subtle reading of it. It’s easy to mock Abbott’s changing positions on climate change. It’s also easy to see the streak of denialism in him. Battlelines rehearses several classic denialist arguments: we’ve had radical changes in climate before industrialisation; future changes in climate are “unknown and perhaps even benign”; climate change used to be called “global warming” until particularly cold winters in Europe and North America demonstrated that the alarmists were wrong. He cites approvingly Bjorn Lomborg’s declaration that “a narrow focus on reducing carbon emissions could leave future generations lumbered with major costs, without major cuts in temperatures”. It’s a deceptive line. The point of carbon-emission reduction isn’t to reduce global temperatures: it’s to limit the inevitable temperature rise to a level that isn’t catastrophic. The truth is that Abbott’s beliefs on climate-change science don’t govern his political actions. He supported an ETS under Howard, then opposed one in Battlelines. He supported one again under Turnbull’s leadership, then unseated his boss and took his job in order to defeat it. Now he rails against the carbon tax. Clearly, he opposes an ETS or a carbon tax as a matter of principle. Whether or not he supports one as a matter of policy is, at all times, a matter of political judgement. If he thinks it is inevitable, if he thinks the argument against it is ultimately lost, then he will acquiesce. That’s what led John Howard to adopt one just before his political demise. It’s what led Abbott to go along with Turnbull, who famously declared that the Coalition would be “wiped out” without one. But, in the end, Abbott was convinced that “the politics of this issue have changed dramatically”. He was right. 391 For Abbott, conservatives “are better suited to defending barricades than to storming them” For all his reputation as a man of zeal, Abbott is very much a pragmatist. There are those moments when pragmatism meets conviction, and Abbott will pounce on them much like any politician, but he very rarely indulges in moral idealism. In David Marr’s Quarterly Essay on Abbott, he explains this as a contest between “Values Abbott” and “Politics Abbott”, a contest which Politics Abbott ultimately wins: Win or lose, nothing will be done to roll back abortion rights because Politics Abbott knows that’s simply not possible. Values Abbott will work to cushion families from the realities of economic life. And if the Coalition parties allow him, Values Abbott will protect working men and women from the full force of the labour market. But he won’t put his career on the line for any of this. He won’t abandon his old DLP principles, but he won’t be a martyr to them either. The Abbott that matters is Politics Abbott. The conclusion works, but this isn’t some fight between the two halves of Tony Abbott that only his worldly ambition resolves. Rather, this is a straightforward application of conservative political philosophy. Any serious conservative understands that there is a world of difference between private morality and public policy. It embraces axiomatically what Anthony Quinton dubbed “the politics of imperfection”: this idea that social norms should not be bent to the will of some overarching moralism. The great British conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott called it a “mood of indifference”, which requires the conservative “to rein in one’s own beliefs and desires, to acknowledge the current shape of things, to feel the balance of things in one’s hand, to tolerate what is abominable, to distinguish between crime and sin”. The conservative’s private morality is, ultimately, beside the point. It’s entirely possible for a conservative (like Abbott’s friend, the late Christopher Pearson) to be gay, but to oppose same-sex marriage on the basis that it messes unduly with an ancient institution. Or, conversely, to believe that homosexuality is an abomination, but accept same-sex marriage on the basis that social attitudes make change inevitable and the institution of marriage might otherwise fall into disrepute. Oakeshott makes the point explicit: “It is not at all inconsistent to be conservative in respect of government and radical in respect of almost every other activity.” 392 Abbott has read Oakeshott. Indeed he invokes Oakeshott as an authority for the idea that as far as conservatives are concerned, “few principles are dogmatically held and one person’s opinion is considered as likely as the next person’s to be right”. He accepts the idea that conservatives have no business trying to create a world that realises their own moral vision: “Unlike liberalism or socialism, conservatism does not start with an idea and construct a huge superstructure based on one insight or preference,” he writes, adding elsewhere that “ideologues want to impose their values on others. Pragmatists want to solve others’ problems as long as the cure is not worse than the disease.” He puts himself very much in the latter category. That is not to say Abbott’s conservatism is unconcerned with moral values. He’s concerned with the breakdown of society’s moral fabric, and will resist what he sees as moral disintegration if it’s happening before him, but he’s not radically moralistic. He won’t try to re-create an idealised moral past. His conservatism means he submits to irretrievable moral developments in society. “As an ambitious politician, I had never had the slightest intention of becoming a morals campaigner,” he writes in Battlelines. For Abbott, conservatives “are better suited to defending barricades than to storming them”. Take, for instance, Abbott’s understanding of what he calls “the evolving family”, which is “often sole-parent or blended”: The fact that the divorce rate has increased from about 10 per cent to about 40 per cent in the past two generations is not really so surprising. Nor is the fact that people frequently live together before making a formal commitment to each other. It reflects the social changes of the past century much more than it signifies a collapse of moral standards ... A hundred years ago, most people married their first love at about 20 and lived to be about 50. These days, people typically marry their third or fourth love at about 30 and live to be about 80. It’s not realistic to expect most young adults in this hyper-sexualised age to live chastely for many years outside marriage. Even if people’s expectations of their partners and spouses were much less high, longer lives would tend to mean more potential exposure to the rocks on which marriages often founder. People have not so much abandoned traditional mores as found that the old standards don’t so readily fit the circumstances of their lives. He does not rail against these things as you might expect a conservative Catholic to do. Perhaps it’s because he himself failed to observe Catholic abstinence as a young man, but his 393 account of these social developments is nuanced, undogmatic and certainly not doctrinal. Yet, he told Women’s Weekly that young couples should observe “the rules” prohibiting pre-marital sex. Asked about the advice he would give his daughters on sex, he volunteers the idea that their virginity is “the greatest gift you can give someone ... and don’t give it to someone lightly”. When asked by the Sunday Age to recount his best personal advice, he came up with “avoid the occasion of sin”. This is the stuff that scares his critics, who see in this a plan to control women’s sexuality. “Australian women don’t want to be told what to do by Tony Abbott,” shot back Gillard, then deputy prime minister, after the Women’s Weekly interview. He wasn’t quite doing that. He was talking about the advice he would give, as a father, to his daughters. That distinction probably doesn’t matter to most casual observers, but it matters to Abbott. It’s when Abbott is being asked about his personal convictions that he says these things. When he is speaking at the level of society, his observations are much more accommodating of what we might call un-Catholic social norms. The distinction between what he tells his daughters and what his plans are for society is one I suspect Abbott understands instinctively as a conservative. Tony Abbott with former prime minister John Howard, January 2013 © Tony Abbott It might be true that Tony Abbott would, all things being equal, prefer a world where, say, abortion is illegal. It is certainly true that he thinks the frequency of abortion in Australia is “a national tragedy”, that it is (at least sometimes) “the easy way out” and that excessive “teenage promiscuity” is to blame. He is – or at least was – up for the ethical and cultural debate on abortion. That makes him unusual in our political culture. Few others would ask us to foster a “culture where people understand that actions have consequences and take responsibility seriously”, as though abortion were a matter entered into lightly. His personal moral position on this is deeply conservative and, to many, deeply offensive. 394 But when it comes to public policy, Abbott insists that “no one wants to bring back the backyard abortion clinic or to stigmatise the millions of Australians who have had abortions or encouraged others to do so”. In Battlelines, he makes an explicit distinction between “deploring the frequency of abortion and trying to re-criminalise it”. From his time as Howard’s health minister, and from Battlelines, we know his approach will be to try to “nudge the abortion rate down without affecting women’s right to choose”, probably by tailoring support services accordingly. But he’ll also be extremely wary of taking any steps that will unleash a backlash. For Marr, this is because Politics Abbott won’t have the numbers and wouldn’t risk the political cost of doing anything more coercive. I suspect his reasons are more philosophically considered. His political conservatism means he understands the folly of trying to re-create the past. He knows that any attempt at regressive change would probably create a bigger problem than it is trying to solve. About the authorWaleed Aly Waleed Aly is an ABC Radio National broadcaster, former practising solicitor and a lecturer in politics at Monash University. He is the author of People Like Us and Quarterly Essay 37, 'What's Right? The Future of Conservatism in Australia', published in 2010. Abbott’s humour less than killer, but does he lack compassion? by David Ritter, academic, commentator and campaigner | Mar 19, 2012 2:16PM | EMAIL | PRINT The passing of Margaret Whitlam at age 92 has elicited an outpouring of respect bordering on reverence across Australia. Whitlam’s contribution to Australian life was profound and is indeed deserving of tremendous national appreciation. It is deeply disappointing then that opposition leader Tony Abbott saw fit to mark Whitlam’s death with a cheap shot on her husband’s political legacy. Tastelessly, he said: 395 “There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam.” Yep, really nice, having a go at a 95-year-old invalid on the day when his wife of 70 years has died. And hardly the kind of conduct you want to see exhibited in the alternative prime minister. But then Abbott has a long history of dealing with other people’s mortality less than respectfully. Infamously, Abbott once said of (now deceased, but then terminally ill) asbestosis sufferer Bernie Bantam that “just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things”. Then there was the time that Abbott described Kevin Rudd’s account of his own father’s death as sounding “too self-serving to be true”. And let’s not forget the occasion when Abbott responded to the death of Australian soldier Jared MacKinney in Afghanistan by commenting that “shit happens”. In February 2010, a jovial Abbott thought it was funny to remark that “[t]he only one of the Ten Commandments that I am confident that I have not broken is the one about killing, and that’s because I haven’t had the opportunity yet”. In the same month, while pursuing Peter Garrett over the administration of the stimulus package for home insulation, Abbott’s choice of language around the four industrial fatalities in question was sometimes pretty doubtful, including his repeated brandishing of the slogan “electrocution denial”. Last year, Abbott put political tactics ahead of public grieving and remembrance when he thought it appropriate to refuse parliamentary pairs preventing Simon Crean and Malcolm Turnbull from attending the funeral of painter Margaret Olley. Then in January this year, Abbott was in a lighter mood again, jokily bantering about the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster, which at that stage was known to have involved at least 11 deaths. Whitlam was a great woman whose death deserves national recognition, but the end of every life should be treated with gravity and dignity. We will all live through the bereavement of friends and loved ones, and in the end death comes to us all. Treating dying with solemnity and compassion is one of the marks of a civilised society. 396 As one runs through this list of gaffes — and there have been others  — it is possible to make excuses for Abbott on each occasion. Defence Minister Stephen Smith generously said, for example, that he did not “believe that Tony Abbott would say anything that was flippant or insulting or critical about an Australian soldier, an Australian soldier’s death or our contribution in Afghanistan” in relation to the “shit happens” incident. And of course let he who is without sin cast the first stone: none of us are immune from moments of social brain- failure and charmless insensitivity. Yet nonetheless, there is something troubling about the sheer number of times Abbott has seemingly been flippant about the deaths of others. At the very least, his serial insensitivity shows a standard of manners and politeness less than that which should be a minimum requirement for public office. At worst what is revealed is a genuine failure of compassion. Taken collectively there seems to be pattern of instinctive and aggressive callousness; an impulsive failure of empathy. In a pen portrait of Abbott in The Monthly, playwright Louis Nowra wrote of Abbott as a boxer in his younger days that: “Whenever Abbott entered the ring he was, as he once said, ‘terrified. It’s one of those things you make yourself do’. In his first bout — against Cambridge in March 1982 — he knocked out his opponent within the opening minute, and his three other fights were equally successful. He had little technique but a brutal sense of attack, which he called ‘the whirling dervisher’.” The parallel with Abbott’s political approach suggested by Nowra is obvious enough. But perhaps there is also insight as to the motivation: by his own admission, it was fear that drove Abbott inside the boxing arena. As one observes Abbott’s various distasteful remarks about death, one can only wonder whether the Opposition Leader is again terrified, driven by some visceral internal fear. If so, he deserves compassion. *Afterword: it is appropriate in context to remember my good mate Jaye Radisich, former Western Australian state Labor MP for the seat of Swan Hills (2001-2008) who died over the weekend aged only 35 after a long battle with cancer 397 Tony Abbott Shadow Minister for Community Services; Author, Battlelines Tony Abbott is renowned as a pugnacious and committed politician and this month joined the ranks of parliamentary authors with the publication of his book Battlelines. Described as a conservative manifesto, it maintained Tony’s reputation for controversy by offering contentious policy options and outlining the values he thought the Liberal Party should represent. The book charts a future for the Liberals after the 2007 election defeat and offers an insider’s view of the Howard government. Tony was born in London in November 1957 of Australian parents who moved back to Sydney in 1960. He graduated from Sydney University with degrees in law and economics, then achieved an MA and two blues in boxing as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Since his student days Tony has been involved in right-wing politics and socially conservative causes linked to his Catholic faith. He once considered becoming a priest but changed his mind. After working as a journalist, a press secretary for Liberal leader John Hewson and as Executive Director of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, he became the Liberal member for Warringah, on Sydney’s northern beaches, in a by-election in March 1994. Tony joined the Howard government’s front bench after the 1998 election and for the next ten years served in a range of portfolios including Employment Services, Workplace Relations and Health. In Opposition he has been shadow minister for families, community services and indigenous affairs, and has not ruled out one day standing for the leadership. Tony is well-known for his public campaigns against such things as abortion, stem cell research and an Australian republic. He also participates each year in 398 the marathon Pollie Pedal bike ride to raise funds for medical research. Tony, his wife Margaret and their three daughters live in the northern Sydney suburb of Forestville. Tony Abbott: Battlelines | ABC Fora | 7 August 2009 "Tony Abbott has just launched his book 'Battlelines', which offers a range of policy ideas for the coalition to consider in time for the next election. Many political observers say its release is a signal that Mr Abbott is positioning for his own run at the Liberal leadership. Here at the National Press Club in Canberra, he offers his thoughts on solutions to the declining birth-rate and aging population, and unveils some of his policy visions, including his analysis of approaches to health and education policy." Listen to audio or watch video of the report. Tony Abbott launches Battlelines book | Radio National Breakfast | 28 July 2009 "He's less popular in the polls than Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull, but that hasn't stopped Tony Abbott from putting his thoughts together on the way forward for the Liberal party in a new book. It's called Battlelines, and while he may only be the Opposition spokesman on families, housing and community services, his book is being promoted as 'the essential manifesto for the thinking Liberal'." Listen to audio of the report. No place for noble savages | The Australian | 8 May 2009 "AT some point in the early 1970s, official policy towards Aboriginal people shifted from integration and assimilation to self-determination. It reflected guilt about their dispossession and embarrassment at the destruction of their culture." An article by Tony Abbott. Not for Adam and Steve | Unleashed | 9 May 2008 Read Tony Abbott's comments about gay marriage. Tony Abbott | Sunday Profile | 12 June 2005 "Tony Abbott, Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, talks about the impact of the Daniel O'Connor story on him, his family and his wife; how he tries to keep his religious beliefs separate from his politics and why he believes the Australian 399 voter wouldn't have any trouble electing a devoutly religious person,somebody not unlike himself, to high office." Read a transcript or listen to audio of Monica Attard's interview with Tony Abbott. [Audio|Transcript] The Rise and Rise of Tony Abbott | Sunday | 15 July 2001 "Tony Abbott does not pull any punches, whether in the ring or on the hustings. The former pugilist is probably Australia's most controversial politician; he's not afraid to say what he thinks — an unusual trait in a member of parliament." Read a transcript of John Lyons' report. Parliament of Australia website View Tony Abbott's parliamentary profile. Tony Abbott's website View information about Tony and his electorate. Tony Abbott on Q&A >>21 May 2009 >>19 March 2009 >>18 September 2008 >>29 May 2008 TONY ABBOTT. ONE. LAST. PUNCH. By Wendy Harmer General, Harmer's Hoopla, Must see, News and Opinion August 24, 2013 1662 0 155 Well, this just about takes the biscuit. Tony Abbott says that it is Julia Gillard and her “crude political headbanging” who has lowered the tone of debate in this country. ”Both sides are guilty but I think that as prime minister Gillard was particularly bad at it,” he said in Fairfax today. Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard had driven an ”over-the-top” campaign to damage his reputation. She had maligned him. 400 I appeal to the umpire… HOWZAT!? This from a man who stood in front of a poster that read “Ditch the Witch”. Who stood silent as Ms. Gillard’s honour was sullied by the most outrageous slurs. A man who didn’t ever utter a peep as the Prime Minister of this country was derided as barren, frumpy, ugly… who ought to be put in a chaff bag or kicked to death. I’m gobsmacked at this latest effort in resuming his attacks on a former Prime Minister who was so gracious in defeat. As a former boxer I suppose Tony Abbott can’t resist throwing one last punchdrunk, swinging haymaker even as his former opponent is sitting in the dressing room having her wounds attended to. Recently on Radio National’s Sunday Extra programme I spoke of Tony Abbott as being personable and friendly when you met him in the flesh. I was prepared to give his maligned character the benefit of the doubt. I take it back. I was naïve. Abbott says his portrayal by Ms. Gillard as a misogynist was “invalid and unfair”. 401 ”You go into this business and you’ve got to take your lumps, but at times I certainly thought that the then prime minister went right over the top,” he said. Except he hasn’t “taken his lumps”… you can still see the bruising and swelling. That little woman Gillard obviously hit him right where it hurts. Putting the heated argument of sexism aside – and it seems that doesn’t play well in the electorate – I accuse Tony Abbott of something more heinous that perhaps Aussie voters will understand. It’s unsportsmanlike, Tony. You’re the victor. Take it on the chin. You’re a sexist. Julia is a man-hater. You won! Go you!! In saying the accusations against you were “invalid and unfair” you’re saying that even though you prevailed… it should have been by a bigger margin. Just whose reputation has been more damaged in this bare knuckle brawl? I’d suggest it’s Julia Gillard’s. You’re still standing, mate. Take it as a glorious triumph. The glittering prize is within reach. I detest a bad sport. Even more, I loathe a bully boy who can’t resist going back for One. Last. Punch. RELATED ARTICLES The Anatomy of a Prime Minister Small breasts, huge thighs: PM on the Menu When MSM fails you. Take out an ad Julia Gillard: A Woman Who Dared to Lead 402 ************ ************ *** functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.  Jul 5 2014 at 12:50 AM  Updated Jul 5 2014 at 5:34 AM  Save article  Print  Reprints & permissions Tony Abbott and his fading $25 billion sales pitch Prime Minister Tony Abbott ...     It’s a bad sign that the budget’s still so discussed and contested in July. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen by Phillip Coorey Outside the Senate entrance on Friday morning in sub-zero temperatures, Palmer United Party Senator Dio Wang found himself being grilled over the big issue. Did he, too, think Tony Abbott was a psychopath? 403 “Not my choice of words," said Wang, or words to that effect as he politely dissociated himself with the rambling attack on the Prime Minister the day before by his PUP colleague, Jacqui Lambie . Wang, like Lambie, has not yet met the Prime Minister. Unlike Lambie, he will reserve his judgement until then. Welcome to the new Parliament and the issues commanding its initial focus. Goodness knows what the Prime Minister must be thinking about the task ahead, which begins in earnest next week when his agenda and the nation become hostage to the new Senate and its myriad characters who, Coalition Senate leader Eric Abetz pointed out this week, were “all God’s children". The sitting fortnight, beginning on Monday, is atypical for early July. Typically, the Parliament recesses in late June for school holidays and a longer winter break. When it became apparent soon after the election that Labor and the Greens were not going to repeal the carbon and mining taxes, the government scheduled the special sitting fortnight to ensure those repeals – which will be backdated to July 1 – were swiftly delivered. Should everyone – PUP included – stick to their word, both of those policies will have hit the fence by late next week or early the week after. Far greater problem looms What the government did not anticipate when it scheduled the special sittings, was that its budget would be in such a terrible mess. This now looms as a far greater problem than the repeal of the carbon and mining taxes. As one Labor frontbencher opined this week, it is a bad sign for any government for its budget to still be so discussed and hotly contested in July. He was right. Usually, all the hue and cry accompanying budgets has subsided by now and all but one or two contentious measures are sliding through the Senate with nary a whimper. For example, the Abbott-led Opposition accused Labor of class warfare and all other manner of heinous acts when it took on the task of making structural savings by means-testing middle-class welfare. 404 But by mid-year, the Coalition ended up passing most of the cuts, bar one or two such as means-testing the private health insurance rebate. What makes the current situation stand out is that the majority of the government’s first budget – $25 billion out of $37 billion in cuts and tax increases announced in May and which was opposed by the old Senate – faces little immediate prospect of passage through the new Senate either. Case for harsh measures not established When Malcolm Turnbull , under questioning this week, conceded that the government was struggling because it had not established the case for the harsh measures contained in the budget, it was not the first time. In a speech to the CEDA (Committee for Economic Development of Australia) conference on June 24, in which he announced there would have to be dramatic changes to Australia Post’s business model if it were to survive the revenue plunge caused by the decline in letters, he addressed the challenges of attempting reform. “Nobody will accept the bitter pill unless they are convinced they are ill. You cannot sell a solution until you have established a problem," he said. “So the first step in the reform process must be to tell the truth about the current state of affairs and then make a case for what needs to be done." It could be argued the Coalition, both in opposition and government, only achieved half the task. Furthermore, its breaking of pre-election promises about no increased taxes, changes to pensions and so forth have made the measures virtually impossible to sell in retrospect, especially as the Coalition made such a virtue of honesty in the lead-up to the election. That was then and now is now, and the problem for the government is where to from here in an environment in which it is increasingly impossible to reform anything. The kind of speeches Joe Hockey and Abbott are now making are those that they should have made more of soon after the election. The government seems devoid of any Plan B other than try to shame Labor into passing the measures. 405 In his speech to the Melbourne Institute on Thursday night, Abbott adopted the big bad wolf strategy of vowing to huff and puff until he blew the walls down. ‘This budget will pass’ “Eventually, if not at the first attempt or even the second, this budget will pass, because no one has put up a credible alternative," he said. “You can’t block the government’s economic strategy without one of your own." One of the more significant speeches delivered to the same forum was given hours earlier by shadow treasurer Chris Bowen . He used the speech to anticipate and take on the challenge of having no credible alternative. “Thoughtless brutalism", he said, was not the way to deal with revenue pressures. Nor was hamstringing future economic growth sources through such measures as making higher education more unaffordable. He gave no detail of what Labor was working on and cautioned that while Labor would have policies ready for the next election, it was not the role of Oppositions to “craft shadow budgets" but to pass judgement on the government’s proposals. Labor, he said, would not resort to populism and it would not jeopardise its own budget measures by breaking promises. “Not all of them will be popular, and some may lose us votes, but we will not make the mistake this government made," he said. “We’ll be honest with the Australian people about our plans." The upshot is that Labor, sooner than is usual in the electoral cycle for a first-term opposition, is moving to develop a budget narrative of its own, to run in parallel with that of the government. Meanwhile, the economic situation will continue to deteriorate. A great deal of budget measures that were supposed to start on July 1 this year have not. Except for the deficit tax, which did more to kill consumer and business sentiment than it will do to help the bottom line. In the interim, the government has little option but to keep arguing for its own solutions, a process that now looks as though it will drag on for months and months, if not into the next budget cycle itself. The backbench must be stoked about that. 406 The Australian Financial Review The assassination of Prime Minister Tony Abbott Posted on November 18, 2015 by admin The timeline:  12 September, Saturday, Abbott in Perth campaigning for the Canning by-election.  12 September, Bishop and Turnbull have a meeting at a Sydney hotel “to discuss where things stood’’.  13 September, Sunday, Abbot in Adelaide, meets with Pyne.  13 September, Sunday night, Turnbull and his war room meet over dinner at Peter Hendy’s Queanbeyan house.  14 September, Monday, at 8.30 am, Abbott at the Norwood Traffic Centre with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill. No idea of conspiracy.  14 September, midday, Bishop tells Abbott there’s a challenge to his leadership and proposes three options.  14 September, 3.10 pm, after question time, Turnbull accosts Abbott.  14 September, in a press conference just after 4 pm, Turnbull declares: “A little while ago I met with the prime minister and advised him that I would be challenging him for the leadership of the Liberal Party…’  14 September, 9 pm Abbott lies bleeding from 54 stab wounds It has been reported that Tony Abbott was completely taken by surprise by the well-organised coup to depose him. He could not have been more surprised than most Coalition supporters. 407 It was beyond long-time Liberal Party supporters’ conception that the Liberal Party would stoop so low – that it would take its lead from the Labor Party in resolving its internal problems. Indeed, the filthiness of Tony Abbott’s assassination must have raised Labor eyebrows in admiration. It’s happened before, said the coup’s supporters, what are you worried about? Take a deep breath and get used to a legitimate change in leadership. Indeed, one could claim that the act of deposing Abbott was not wholly unprecedented. Prime Ministers Menzies and Gorton suffered a similar fate – Menzies in 1940 and Gorton in 1971. I remember the Gorton affair well. Although it seemed to me at the time not unwarranted, Fraser was not without blemish. He expertly manoeuvred to undermine Gorton. UAP colleagues undermined Menzies while he was away in the United Kingdom to discuss the war effort with Churchill. On his return, those same colleagues beefed up their vicious efforts to get rid of him. Worn down by the incessant white-anting, Menzies uncharacteristically caved in and resigned, saying that he had lost the confidence of the party. The shafting of Tony Abbott resembles that of Menzies’ fate – not Gorton’s – though not in the way his enemies present the comparison, that is, as a justification of precedence. The similarity is in the dirty, treacherous, seditious tactics the party enemies of both prime ministers used. An important consideration in this analysis is that Tony Abbott had a better track record of political leadership than Gorton and Menzies. Abbott had seen off two Labor Prime ministers and convincingly won an election. He had enormous support among Coalition supporters. Many of us were convinced that he would win the next election despite the polls. He had a difficult job in righting the economic chaos the Labor caused under Rudd and Gillard, especially in view of the ignorant ferals in the senate who blocked every move to bring spending under control. He had to persevere, as many of his Liberal predecessors had done. He would win the people over in the long run. They would see tough measures had to be taken and that Tony Abbott, principled and determined, was the man for the job. There is no other politician in Australia with the same moral toughness as Tony Abbott. Indeed, that is a main reason that the leftist media hate him. They can’t stand someone espousing enduring moral principles in a world which their subjectivism must construct to have any legitimacy. 408 As I say, Liberal Party supporters were utterly appalled at action that was not in the spirit of the Liberal Party. We did not think the Liberal Party had been so morally weakened. We did not think loyalty, sticking to the job, showing backbone and determination meant so little to a majority of the members. The outrage was immediate. That outrage has not lessened, if talkback radio is any indication. Indeed, the outrage if anything has solidified and become entrenched, especially now that Abbott’s enemies in the leftist media have given a clearer idea of what went on behind the scenes. No amount of political prejudice and religious bigotry could hide the essential facts in the telling of the well organized coup. Accounts of the deposing of Tony Abbott appeared in the Australian Financial Review by Phillip Corey and Laura Tingle, in the Sydney Morning Herald by Peter Hartcher, and in the Australian by Pamela Williams. Pamela Williams’s account is much longer than the Hartcher’s, and Corey and Tingle’s, but they don’t disagree in the essentials. Corey, Tingle and Hartcher are well-known Abbott-haters, all three racked by a hatred inducing fantasies. Among Abbott haters, Hartcher must take the crown. When he writes about Abbott he loses all semblance of being a journalist. He becomes just another a slimy political operative. His writing is hackneyed, clichéd and tendentious, with hardly an argument backed by evidence to be found anywhere. All is assertion and the regurgitation of the leftist narrative about Abbott. He shows no reluctance to make up stories to serve his purpose. His account of the coup is no different. It’s the same narrative that ends in blaming Abbot for his own demise – gaffes, Credlin, blah, blah – it’s all repeated yet again. He borrows Scott Morrison’s ugly self- serving accusation that Abbott was prepared ‘to throw Hockey under a bus’ to keep the prime ministership, without subjecting Morrison’s manoeuvring to the analysis it was crying out for. But Hartcher unwittingly betrays himself in his sanctimonious gloating over the destruction of Abbott. He writes: ‘It was the worst kept secret in Australian politics that Turnbull, who had the Liberal leadership wrested from him by Abbott five years and nine months earlier, was determined to take it back.’ Never before have I seen in Hartcher’s pulp journalism this admission, an admission that must have coloured any journalist’s writing about Turnbull and federal politics – any journalist worthy of the title. It didn’t. Hartcher’s chilling lack of honesty and fair dealing highlights the almost insurmountable obstacles that Tony Abbott had to confront as prime minister. The media hates everything 409 about him, especially his religion, and backs away from nothing that would damage him – not even the most scurrilous unfounded accusation. Anti-Catholic sectarianism has not reached such heights since the Prince Alfred affair in 1868. Some newspapers and journalists cannot rise above ridicule, mockery and calumny. Then there were the ignorant senators who showed a clownish perversity not seen before in that fragile institution of government. One of these representatives of the people did not blush to call Abbott a ‘psychopath’, an outburst that highlights the urgent need of psychological intervention that senator is apparently undergoing. To top it all off, one of Abbott’s own, high in the ranks of government, was busy carrying out a five-year seditious operation to grab the prime ministership from him, all the while giving Cheshire smiles of support. Few men could stand up to such unrelenting hounding. It is a wonder that Abbott did not cave in to the pressure, as Menzies did. He fought until the last moment before the blood spattered conspirators and their fifty-four daggers paraded jubilantly in the glare of an applauding media. To use a favourite media cliché, it is a delicious irony that the accounts of Abbott’s execution draw the curtain away to reveal Turnbull’s perfidy in all its obscene nakedness. There is now no doubt whatever that the usurper Turnbull never gave up the idea of actively reclaiming the Liberal Party leadership. He was not going to wait for it – to let circumstances flow his way without resorting to backroom deals. By hook or by crook he was going to have his vanity satisfied. We now know that he worked behind the scenes developing his base, wheedling his way into good opinion of some, flattering others, making promises of rewards, and seeking reconciliation with members he had alienated. He did not even resile from bribing that ignorant kid politician from Queensland. This was Cassius in full seditious mode. The first spill in February gave us a surface view of what was happening and who were agitating against Abbott. Let’s recall the names of the leading stirrers: Luke Sempkins, Dennis Jensen, Andrew Laming, Warren Entsch, Mal Brough, Ian MacDonald, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, Senator Wyatt Roy. They appeared again in the confected outrage over Tony Abbott’s decision to grant a knighthood to Prince Philip. That ridiculous Andrew Lamming organised a private member’s bill to end the knighthood awards. None of these people stopped to inquire what motivated Abbott to reintroduce Imperial Honours. Instead, they acted as stooges for those in the media 410 who were out to destroy Abbott. Lamming continued to make a goose of himself by leading a media team around his electorate only to be taken to task by ordinary people whom he could never fool. Lamming is representative of those in the Liberal Party who don’t know what it means to be a conservative. They have no idea of the cultural links and continuities that were behind Tony Abbott’s decision. We have a prescriptive cultural history that runs back into Great Britain’s history. It’s a mutual history. It is childish to deny it; it is the worst ignorance not to know about it. Those that don’t know about it have no place in the Liberal Party. Having tasted the blood of the spill and the confected awards outrage, and recognizing the success of their constant white-anting, the conspirators had the confidence to mount the coup. Pamela Williams names the key group at the September 13 meeting in Queanbeyan as Peter Hendy, MalcolmTurnbull, Arthur Sinodinos, James McGrath, senator Scott Ryan, senator Mitch Fifield, and Queensland MPs Mal Brough and the kid Wyatt Roy. Later we learned that Bishop’s chief of staff, Murray Hansen, was at the meeting, as was Craig Lundy. Active supporters were named as Paul Fletcher and Michaelia Cash. Senator Birmingham was among the plotters but could not be present at the meeting. As Williams put it, on the Ides of September the conspirators ‘were preparing to intervene brutally in a democratically elected government with an ambush against Australia’s 28th prime minister.’ (In the Roman calendar, the Ides of September is on the 13th.) If the treachery of the coup was not ugly enough, Tony Abbott had to learn that some of those closest to him were in league with the conspirators. Christopher Pyne’s betrayal seems to have been late in the day when he abandoned his friend without telling him. Morrison and Bishop’s betrayal was of months, perhaps years, duration. The indisputable evidence is there in the accounts of the coup and what led up to it. In the days before the coup, Morrison and Bishop were desperately manoeuvring to hide their collusion with Turnbull. I always thought Bishop two-faced, but I did not get a glimpse of the extent of Morrison’s betrayal until I watched him walk alone to the meeting room for the denouement of the plan of sedition. He looked uneasy and the question of why he was alone 411 in the corridor hung over his head. He later compounded his dissembling treachery by accusing Abbott of ‘throwing Hockey under a bus’, an expression the inimical media lapped up. What a tragedy that this talented man should let his ambition so befoul his record – and stain his soul. The whole nasty episode vividly reminds me of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with usurper Turnbull in the role of the ‘lean and hungry’ Cassius. Instead of Et tu, Brute? it was Et tu Scott?Et tu Julie? Et tu Christopher? And, of course, there were the others whose backbone had turned to jelly, presenting the nation with a shameless display of gutlessness. But what are conservatives to do? How are we to move forward? How are we to view a party that is in a state of corruption from its first principles? I am of the firm opinion that Tony Abbott should remain in parliament and we conservatives should do all we can to support him and restore him to his rightful position. I have three reasons: 1. Tony Abbot is a tough determined man driven by principle. The world needs men of principle who are not afraid to make unpopular decisions. It is so now and will be more so in the future as the leaders of the West become increasingly paralysed by indecision. 2. Tony Abbott still has great support in the Liberal Party and in the general community. Indeed, he represents Menzies’ forgotten people – the salt-of-the-earth Australians the media has contempt for. They have no other voice in parliament. 3. The political assassination of Tony Abbott has caused a rupture in the moral fabric of the Liberal Party. That rupture has to be repaired. Restoration has to be made. Otherwise the act of assassination will continue to eat away at the Party’s innards. In response to the question of how Edmund Burke would view Turnbull’s manner of getting rid of an opponent, I reply at once that it is the right question to ask. It is the right question to ask because Robert Gordon Menzies, the founder of the Liberal Party, was profoundly influenced by the political philosophy of Edmund Burke. He was essentially a Burkean, despite his few allusions to J.S. Mill’s ideas on liberty that some Liberals have taken out of context to attach an idea to Menzies he never held. In Menzies’ essay ‘Freedom in Modern Society’ which appears in ‘Part IV – Problems of Democracy’ in his book Speech is of Time (1958), the reader finds a concept of liberty that is taken directly from Burke’s writings. 412 For Burke, there can be no liberty in society without ‘order’ and ‘virtue’, virtue meaning the holding of enduring moral principles. Objective moral principle cannot be decided by a principle of utility. Given Menzies’ attachment to Burke’s conception of liberty, there can be no doubt that Menzies also adhered to Burke’s conception of what constitutes political party, for enduring moral principle was again its basis. On the question of political party Burke could hardly be clearer. In his book, Edmund Burke: Philosopher, Politician and Prophet, Jesse Norman gives a convincing demonstration that Burke’s thoughts on party in politics set the form and standards for the modern era. As in so many cases, Burke was forced to articulate his ideas in the face of the abuse of power. In this case, it was the abuse of power by the king’s faction in the House of Commons. The only way to defeat the abuse of factional power, said Burke, was for a ‘considerable body of men [to be] united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest, upon some political principle in which they are all agreed.’ In the Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770), he said of the corrupting power of the ‘King’s men’, Government may in a great measure be restored, if any considerable body of men have honesty and resolution enough never to accept Administration, unless this garrison of King’s men, which is stationed, as in a citadel, to control and enslave it, be entirely broken and disbanded, and every work they have thrown up be levelled with the ground. In other words, men of enduring principle, agreeing on policy and acting in unison, could counter the subversion of party and the control of the political process by men of unstable character and fleeting principle. Edmund Burke, wrote Norman, ‘set a pattern among his political set, combining moral principle with a consistent adherence to a set of core policies, and political patronage and financial support.’ This conception of political party demands loyalty from its members. It’s uncompromising. Riddled with the cancer of disloyalty no party will endure long. It is an indictment of Tony Abbott’s bitter unrelenting enemies that they distort and mock that quality he is so strong in. Loyalty is not one-way. The recipient of unfailing loyalty has the strict moral duty to honour that generous protection – and not to spit on it when circumstances require some backbone. 413 The moral rupture has to be repaired and restoration made. Gerard Wilson Tony Abbott's Indigenous 'lifestyle choices' remark smacks of racism, says UN rapporteur UN special rapporteur on indigenous rights criticises the PM’s comments and says Australia has ‘regressed’ in its treatment of Indigenous communities Read more For me, it felt far more visceral. In attacking me (as I see it now), they were forming a basic in-out group, which made them feel connected to each other and superior to the outsider. And the more they vilified me, the more strongly they bonded. At other times, bizarrely, I got on fine with these kids: they included my best friends at the school, and I’m sure that after each race-baiting incident they forgot about it and saw me as a person again. But I couldn’t forget it quite so soon. Even earlier than that, I was aware of race. In my nursery school, at the age of four, I met another brown child for the first time. We instantly became best friends, and I remember being upset when I learned she would be going on to a different school to me. For good or ill, it’s clear that all of us can be aware of race from a very early age, and make decisions based on it. As we grow up, and learn that judging people by their ethnicity is wrong, how much of the playground do we leave behind? Advertisement Prejudice is, of course, a universal trait. We all prejudge others: this probably evolved from our survival instinct, which required early humans to make instant decisions when assessing external threats. But to prejudge is to make a decision about someone based on minimal information – and despite the obvious flaws in this thinking, research shows that it endures. Some studies even 414 show that we form a strong opinion about others within 15 seconds of meeting them. Last year, an investigation into employers’ impressions during job interviews showed that they were heavily swayed by eye contact, personal appearance, quality of small talk, and strength of handshake. All of these may have a racial or (race-related) cultural dimension. The interviewer makes judgments based on his or her own experiences, but these could well be incorrect if the interviewee has a different background: the appropriate strength of handshake, eye contact, or even personal appearance is entirely subjective. And that’s even if they don’t make a direct judgment on the interviewee’s race. To pre-judge is to make a decision about someone based on minimal information So what do we mean by “racist”? This is contentious: what do we even mean by race? Does “race” even exist – is it an artificial construct? For practical purposes, I’ll define it as the visible physical difference between people based on their geographical background (skin tone, curliness of hair, eye colour, for example). And I’ll define racism as prejudice based on race, combined with power. In its purest sense, a racist is someone who believes another person is inherently inferior due to the biological fact of their race. This belief drove the centuries-long enslavement of Africans by Europeans, and also the colonial era that followed, in which Africans were deemed incapable of running their own lands. Part of this discourse involved associating Africans with a plethora of negative personality traits: they were supposedly primitive, simple-minded, lazy, aggressive and sexually uncontrolled. This became a convenient way of justifying a system of exploitation that created massive wealth throughout the western world. Asians and native Americans were never enslaved in the same way, so the justification of their treatment did not go to such extreme lengths: the common perception held, though, that their culture and religion were inferior, and they needed the civilising hand of European conquest. Yet though slavery, apartheid and colonialism, in those specific forms, have long since been swept into history, the underlying thinking behind them endures. It’s there as a justification for the massive numbers of black people who are stopped and searched, for instance. (The 415 thinking goes that this must be because black people are inherently more likely to commit crime – conveniently ignoring the fact that the vast majority of those stopped are innocent.) And it’s there in the way Muslims are commonly perceived as a threat – be it from terrorism or grooming, despite the numbers committing these crimes being relatively tiny – because their religion is considered, by some, to be primitive. And although Islam is a religion rather than a race, these attacks are often racist in essence, because of the religion’s strong association with people from a Middle Eastern or Asian background. Many people are aware only of overt racism: the kind displayed by the Chelsea fans who ere caught on video chanting “We’re racist, and that’s the way we like it,” or by people who take to the streets to demand that those who look different be eradicated from society. This kind of person could correctly be labelled a bigot – though in their own mind, their beliefs could be a rational response to a perceived threat to their own ethnic group by outsiders. It could be their local neighbourhood changing in appearance, or a sense of unfairness that help is being given to another group. Whatever the case, it’s quite clear that policies can be put in place to prevent those who hold such views from discriminating against thers directly. Reclaim extremists fit right in to Abbott's Team Australia Alex McKean 6 April 2015, 11:00am 4,663 109 DiscriminationPoliticsReligion Share on facebook1K Share on twitterMore Sharing Services206 Share on linkedin0 Share on reddit55 Share on google_plusone_share Share on email More Sharing Services There is room for the bigoted, hate-filled Reclaim Australia extremists in Tony Abbott’s narrow-minded vision of Team Australia, writes Alex McKean. 416 One of the wonderful things about free speech is that it allows genuinely loopy ideas to be paraded in front of the masses, where all of their flaws can be unflatteringly displayed. The populace, alert to such defects, can give the proffered ideas a gentle squeeze and a sniff, like a thrifty shopper in the produce aisle, leaving behind what is unattractive and unsound, to moulder and decay on the shelf. The ‘Reclaim Australia’ rallies held on 4 April 2015 in various centres throughout the nation were just such an unappetising display. The manifold flaws in the platform pushed by these modern-day Blackshirts are now exposed for all to see. This spasm of knee-jerk racism having been splashed over media, the protagonists can return to their reality-proof bunkers to congratulate themselves on having made Australia a safer place for their "way of life". It is worthwhile, perhaps, to make a few observations about this most recent manifestation of Australian racism and bigotry, of which all Australians should now be aware. Firstly, there is the name of the movement: 'Reclaim Australia'. Precisely from what, or whom, Australia needs to be reclaimed is not spelled out with any clarity. Some guidance can be found on the Facebook page of the movement, which states: ‘We as patriotic australians (sic) need to stand together to stop halal tax, sharia law and islamisation’. To think Sharia law will be a thing in Aus is daft for SO many reasons http://t.co/04fiXQ5pJd #ReclaimAustralia — James Banham (@JBanham) April 5, 2015 Looking at some of the banners of those few brave crusaders who took to the streets on April 4, an overriding concern appears to be the introduction of Sharia Law in Australia. It is by no means clear when Australia is supposed to have fallen under the sway of the Caliphate, from which it must now, apparently with some urgency, be reclaimed. 417 The news on this front is, of course, spectacularly good, from the point of view of those paralysed with the fear of such a legal system. There is no sharia law in Australia – anywhere, at any level of government – and never has been. If it were possible to comfort a paranoid with reason, then the fact that the prospect of sharia law being introduced into any part of the Australian legal system is, to say the least, impossibly remote, would do so. To believe such a dramatic event is somehow likely a person would need to be entirely ignorant of the Australian constitution and the legal and political system it underpins. It would be puzzling if a group describing itself as composed of "patriots" were to be so unaware of the nature of the legal system they appear to be (unnecessarily) seeking to defend. The other alternative is that the individual espousing the belief would need to be suffering from some form of pathological fear of the introduction of sharia law, strong enough to override all verifiable evidence. Secondly, the Reclaim Australia folk appear keen to be seen as "not racist", with various representatives declaiming the descriptor being applied to the group. The rallies on 4 April have given lie to these fatuous claims. It would be very difficult for any reasonable observer to conclude other than that they were witnessing a group of racists displaying their racism, upon viewing the proceedings. The Reclaim Australia website allows earnest patriots to download a variety of banners and leaflets. The website says that downloaded banners must not be altered in any way and any altered banners ‘will not be allowed at any of the rallies’. There may have been a breakdown in the system of vetting banners, a bald attempt to clothe the racist fearmongering in faux respectability, demonstrated by these banners here and here. Thirdly, the movement (if it can be called that) appears to be deeply concerned about a loss of Australian sovereignty. Some of the banners available for download on the Reclaim Australia page proclaim ‘... reclaim Australia over the UN’ and ‘reclaim our laws, our ways, our nation’. 418 To the extent that ‘our laws’ and ‘our ways’ are represented by the Australian legal system and what can, perhaps, broadly be described as the (white) Australian way of life, it is very difficult to see that either of those things are under any credible threat from the direction of Islam in general and sharia law in particular. While the dim and deluded advertised their shortcomings before an incredulous public last weekend, a real threat to Australian sovereignty, the Australian legal system and way of life is looming. Reclaim Australia appears unaware of and unconcerned by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which essentially will allow multinational corporations to sue the Australian government for damages where Australian laws affect corporate profits. Of course, real threats to the integrity of the Australian political and legal system may be a little beyond the grasp of your average white supremacist. Prime Minister Abbott appears sanguine at the prospect of a loss of sovereignty to multinational corporations, who will be able to hold his, and future, governments, to ransom and scuttle any form of legislation designed to better the position of the Aussie battlers the "Reclaimers" claim to represent. It is interesting that the Prime Minister has loudly called for a "clamp down" on groups inciting religious and racial hatred, but appears prepared to give his tacit approval to the Reclaim Australia extremists. Worse, the Reclaim Australia phenomenon appears to be nothing more than a response to the frantic dog-whistling of Abbott and his cronies, ever since they discovered it was their only path back to something resembling popularity with the punters. Doubtless, there is room for the bigoted and hate-filled "Reclaimers" in Mr Abbott’s narrow-minded vision of Team Australia. Just as Cronulla was the logical end-point of the Howard fear-mongering, so the ugly scenes on display on April 4 are a direct consequence of Abbott whipping up of fear and loathing of Islam. 419 Reclaim Australia will disappear presently, but the groups behind it, like the Australia Defence League, will continue to foment hatred as long as they know that their particular brand of extremism is approved of by the Australian Government. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License Government ‘silent’ in wake of anti- Islam rallies 11:22pm, Apr 6, 2015 JACKSON STILES AND KAITLIN THALS Muslim body and MPs urge moderate Australia to condemn anti-Islam extremism. Neo-Nazis were spotted at Reclaim Australia rallies across the nation. Victoria’s peak Muslim body has slammed the federal government for remaining silent on nationwide anti-Islam protests over the weekend. Speaking to Fairfax, Islamic Council of Victoria president Ghaith Krayem said he was disappointed the government had not condemned the “racist and bigoted attack on Muslims”. • Terror fighter ‘fears revenge’ • Gay marriage: love is strange, politics is stranger • Why Joe Hockey must stop treating us like idiots On Saturday, supporters of the Reclaim Australia group — a small number of whom sported Nazi insignia — rallied across the country to oppose ‘sharia law, halal tax and Islamisation’. 420 Violence erupted at some of these rallies when Reclaim clashed with anti-racism groups who had organised a counter-protest. “The commonwealth has been quick to call on our community and leaders to speak out against extremism and hate preaching, yet when these are directed at us they have remained silent,” Mr Krayem said. “We expect the government to speak out strongly against these co-ordinated rallies.” Mr Krayem said elected leaders had a responsibility in “setting an example of what Australian values are really about”. Speaking on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, Liberal backbencher Kelly O’Dwyer agreed extreme beliefs had to be challenged. Police were forced to separate opposing groups in Melbourne and Sydney. Photo: AAP Violent clashes broke out between Islam opponents and ‘anti-racism’ groups. Photo: AAP “Australians and very tolerant and embrace multiculturalism in this country, but I think there are extreme elements in our community, both on the far right and the far left,” Ms O’Dwyer said. “In society, you should attack people’s ideas, not attack people,” she said. Labor Party rising star Ed Husic, who is a Muslim, said the extremists do not represent the majority of Australians, just as terrorists do not represent his faith. “Reclaim Australia does not represent the great things I see in the broader community, and the way in which people get on,” Mr Husic said. “They are just trying to find a platform and a way for fear to feed off fear. “I’m not prepared to give them any more platform than they deserve.” 421 Now is not the time to doubt our fellow Australians, the Labor backbencher said. “The biggest danger for us is not the fear itself, but starting to doubt the people you are with and their love of the country.” Greek musician Nana Mouskouri, who served in the EU parliament in the 1990s, said she has seen racism first hand in the form of the Golden Dawn party. Golden Dawn, headed by a self-professed racist, now has 17 seats in the Greek parliament, which the singer agreed was frightening. When asked by host Tony Jones if parties like Golden Dawn can be reasoned with, Ms Mouskouri disagreed. “But the problem is people have voted and they are in the Parliament, and they have to find a reason why this was created. “Our problem like everyone is to have friends, not enemies, this is what is important, and maybe we have to direct them.” Left-wing commentator Van Badham said there was extremist elements in Australia, which she witnessed first-hand after attending the rally. “We, like any country, have an extremist element on the very far right,” she said. “I will not stand for neo-Nazism. “We should all be unambiguous in our condemnation of it.” inside team awstrayla ….. 422 Pauline Hanson, the figure of popular racism from the 1990s, spoke at the Reclaim (White) Australia rally in Brisbane. This is significant. During her political popularity (when for example in 1998 her One Nation Party with 22% of the vote won 11 seats in the Queensland Parliament) Hanson reflected the despair of a middle class under attack because of changes in the capital accumulation process and some workers, especially non-unionised workers in regional areas. This meant to the surprise of many mainstream media commentators that her rallies and meetings were populated by well-dressed and manicured small business people and other middle class types unhappy with the changing nature of the Australian economy and its by- passing of them. This uncertainty created an opening for Hanson and for a short time she benefited. However Hanson did not have the political skill to coalesce a strong alienated middle class minority around her brand of fear and hate and racist scapegoating and scaremongering. Nor could she challenge Howard when he out Hansoned her and drew many of her supporters into the Liberal net with his rabid anti-refugee stance and other reactionary policies. She faded away, but did not disappear. At the last election in Queensland in January this year standing in the seat of Lockyer, Hanson won over 8000 votes and fell just short of winning the seat with 49.8% of the vote on a two party preferred basis according to the ABC Queensland election results site. Clearly there is still an audience out there for her racist views. Her linking up with Reclaim Australia is a new development in the possible resurgence of her One Nation style politics, 423 the politics of exclusion, scapegoating, and hate. It opens up a new audience and an army of enforcers for her middle class vision. Fascism has in the past built its base among the middle class and the lumpen proletariat. One provides the respectable face and the money and the other the bovver boys to attack the left. Hanson had many in those sections of the middle class feeling politically and economically isolated on board. What she lacked was a bovver boy brigade. The lumpen proletariat element at the Reclaim Australia may give her that brigade. The potential in the future development of the Reclaim Australia movement is for the concentric rings of respectability and aggro to coalesce around Hanson and provide a base for an Australian version of fascism around a populist figure head. Of course it is early days yet but by looking at the issue in class terms we can at least understand potential scenarios for the future built on the experience of history. The possibility of a populist Hanson and a neo-Nazi right within Reclaim Australia finding common ground, as they appear to be doing, is frightening. It could herald the development of a proto-fascist organisation, based on the disaffected middle and lower classes and racist fear-mongering. We need to gather our forces and begin the fight against the racist Reclaim (White) Australia movement. It is better to remove the weeds before they destroy the garden than after they 424 have. Apply the weedicide now, not when the weeds have overrun the garden and it is too late. Pauline Hanson and Reclaim (white) Australia. It is clear fascists were involved in the racist Reclaim (White) Australia rallies on Easter Saturday across Australia. There are lots of photos of Nazis present at the rallies, including this one. This is not a one off. There are many other similar images of tattooed skin heads and beer drinking middle aged angry men to suggest a significant Nazi presence at the rallies. Obviously not all of them got the message to leave their Nazi paraphernalia at home and some didn’t understand this might mean covering up fascist tattoos as well as not bringing swastika flags to the rallies or giving Heil Hitler salutes. But the fascists were not just present at the rallies. One of the ‘national organisers’ of Reclaim Australia is Shermon Burgess, a man who a year ago was describing most Aborigines as dickheads and is, according to New Matilda, a former member of the fascist group the Australian Defence League. He has since apologised for his anti-Aboriginal comments. Well he would wouldn’t he, now that the tactics of pretend respectability are gaining ground among the extreme right. Burgess now runs a Facebook page called the Great Aussie Patriot which has 16000 likes and appeals to rank nationalism. Its main (surface) agenda seems to be to return to the days of White Australia (with a few Uncle Toms thrown in to support them on the way.) 425 Not all those who attended the rallies are fascists. However as a US Nazi site helpfully pointed out many of the people who are demonstrating at these rallies are potential recruits. While this more subtle approach of using concerns over Islam as cover for their real agenda might be new to Australian fascists, historically these tactics are not new. Trotsky identified them in the late 20s and early 30s when he wrote about the dangers of fascism in Europe. Essentially the Nazis used parliamentary democracy and nationalist and racist rhetoric in a time of intense economic crisis as a cover for their main goal of smashing the organised sections of the working class, the unions, left wing political groups from Labor party types to revolutionaries, to restore the profitability of capitalism and particular capitalists. A movement that starts off as the expression of the despair of the middle classes and disaffect, totally alienated parts of the working class or lumpen proletariat becomes the razor for the capitalist class to excise working class resistance to its agenda of driving down wages, and attacking jobs, conditions and so on. [As an aside, this explains why so much of the reactionary rights’ websites, including the Great Aussie Patriot, spend so much time attacking the left.] Here in Australia the fascists appear to be doing the same thing, using totally irrational fears of Muslims, they are intertwining with the racist Reclaim Australia movement to win more appeal and influence. In the past when the fascists in Australia have called demonstrations on their own they have managed to corral tens of people. Now, under the guise of Reclaiming Australia, they can bring together thousands across Australia. The other point about the situation in Australia today is the weakness of the left. First, the revolutionary left is incredibly small. Second the reformist left is also incredibly weak. Labor might win parliamentary elections but its working class support base, although still big, is shrinking and is incredibly passive. 426 The trade unions for the last 3o years have been on a mission to collaborate with capital in shifting more and more of the wealth we create from us to the bosses. In this the union bureaucrats have been incredibly successful but at a cost to their own influence and power in society. Union membership is now less that 18 percent of the workforce and a major contributor to that has been the lack of fight by unions to defend and improve wages, jobs and conditions. This graph from Crikey last year shows the abysmally low levels of class struggle in Australia now and over the last few decades. Bernard Keane, Crickey: from ABS All of this, especially the lack of industrial action and the weakness as a consequence of the left, has created an opening for the Reclaim White Australia racists and their Nazi mates to scapegoat Muslims for the problems of capitalism. Further, state sanctioned demonisation and brutalisation of asylum seekers and Aborigines by both Labor and the Liberals has created a climate for acceptance of respectable racism. Although the mantra of Reclaim (White) Australia is they are just fighting ‘extremists’, their demands paint Islam and hence all Muslims as the enemy. These demands are ridiculous. They want an end to halal funding terrorism. It doesn’t. They want to stop Sharia law. Seriously? WTF are these people on? The answer to that question is that they are fed fear and that feeds on their alienation and economic insecurity. They are either part of a middle class threatened by the economic changes going on in Australia right now or are declassed or fearful workers threatened by or the victims of unemployment, real wage cuts, loss of conditions and penalty rates, and attacks on the social wage. 427 As the Australian economy worsens the racist and Nazi voices will become louder and, as Europe shows, gain a real and much wider audience. We have to stop them doing that in Australia right now. A strong vibrant and active left and trade union movement, with a clear understanding of the nature of capitalism and the threat respectable racism and its hidden guest, fascism, pose to the left and to working people, could act as a pole of attraction offering hope for these middle and working class people currently driven by fear. Building such a left must be our long term goal. In the medium term it means rank and file workers winning back their unions and building strikes to defend workers’ interests. In the short term we have to confront the racists and their fascist bed fellows every time they poke their slimy necks out from their sewers of hate. I am proud to have participated in the demonstration against the racist rally in Canberra. The Canberra Times interviewed me about why I was participating. I have also joined Solidarity to boost the fight against racism, for refugees and ultimately for the working class to overthrow the rotten capitalist system that produces this racism and despair. Good One, Abbott  April 5, 2015  Written by: The AIM Network  Leave a reply 428  The AIM Network Violence erupted between rival groups at the ‘Reclaim Australia’ yesterday. Guest blogger Melissa Frost gives her views. Are you happy Abbott? Australia is in the middle of a civil war it doesnt need to have. An ideological civil war and today 4th April 2015 a near riot nationwide between those wanting multiculturalism and those opposing multiculturalism. And yet globally Australia is seen as one of the most successful multi cultural society’s. Sitting here in my living room following Twitter this rainy Sunday afternoon of the Easter weekend holiday. I was horrified to read my fellow Australians threaten, push and scream at each other at Reclaim Australia protests around the country. Organised over the internet , these protests were initially cancelled. Yet protesters turned up at Martin Place, Sydney and across Australia as well as other organisations and community groups opposing the Reclaim Australia mantra. In 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: “Multiculturalism is the word that we use to capture our love of the things that bind us together and our respect for the diversity that enriches us” . This is a humanist definition of the word “multiculturalism”. And Julia Gillard’s definition of the word I particularly like. It encapsulates the right of all human beings to be heard. For all human beings to be considered and honoured. It speaks of dignity and our lifetime common goal of living life with love, care for each other and above all, respect. Yet, over the last 18 months this definition of multiculturalism has changed. Abbott like his sensei Howard, loathed the “m” word and avoided multiculturalism discussions at every turn. 429 Abbott in the Howard years described multiculturalism as “My view was that Australia should emphasise the common characteristics of the Australian identity. We should emphasise our unifying points rather than our areas of difference.” Which is not a definition of multiculturalism , it is a definition of nationalism. As soon as Abbott became Prime Minister his definition of multiculturalism translated into action, with his government’s abolition of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Bureau of Immigration, Multiculturalism and Population Research. Abbott’s minister’s took to Twitter with tweets such as “Note burqa wearers in some of the houses raided this morning? This shroud of oppression and flag of fundamentalism is not right in Aust”. A Corey Bernardi tweet from September 2014 following the anti-terrorist raids in Sydney and Melbourne. A very publicised tweet supported by the Murdoch press. A tweet suggesting all burqa wearers in Australia were terrorists. Bernadi himself the son of an Italian immigrant Leon Bernardi, who came to Australia at 16, worked his way from the David Jones food counter to running his own hotels and restaurants, and succeeded well enough to send his three sons to the exclusive Prince Alfred College is an excellent example of multiculturalism succeeding. And yet Abbott, another successful immigrant story and Bernardi will not afford their successful multicultural examples to others. Instead inciting fear and loathing through the different mediums of the press, Twitter and Abbott’s six flag national addresses on new anti terrorist laws on our TV screens. These constant, daily, visual cues by this Abbott government and their “Team Australia” rhetoric give those who are disenfranchised, ie young caucasian males, a licence to invoke thuggery. To project their discontent of their lives onto Australia’s Islamic community and organise rally’s Australia wide calling for “Reclaim Australia”. Good one Abbott. The Islamophobia stirred up by Abbott and Bolt is a bigger threat to us than terrorism Julian Burnside 430 We’re being asked to give up long-held principles of justice, fairness and liberty, not to mention social cohesion. Is there any threat big enough to warrant that? ‘Abbott’s recent comments about the threat of terrorism were plainly directed at the risk of Muslim terrorism.’ Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA Contact author @JulianBurnside Thursday 26 February 2015 08.37 AEDT Last modified on Thursday 26 February 2015 12.16 AEDT I have been criticised by several people I respect (and a few I do not respect) for a tweet last week in which I said, “Sorry to see Andrew Bolt stirring up Islamophobia today on his blog. People like Bolt and Abbott are the real threat to our way of life.” This has been taken by some people as me expressing support for jihadists. It was not. I detest Islamic extremism. Let me make it really plain: I detest extremism of any persuasion. One reason I think we should be less hysterical about boat people is that most of them are fleeing the same extremists we dread. Perhaps it is a limitation of Twitter as a platform for non-trivial ideas, but my point was about people who stir up Islamophobia, and the risk they present to our way of life. I would make exactly the same point about people who stir up hatred of any other group. Right now, Islamophobia is the new antisemitism, and it is dangerous. Tony Abbott referred to Muslims a number of times in his speech on Monday, and he referred to the Lindt café siege in Sydney. It is important to bear in mind that the Lindt café siege was not a Muslim terrorist event: it was not any sort of terrorist event. It was the terrible act of a madman. The fact that he was a Muslim is utterly irrelevant. The fact that it is used, even indirectly, to stir up fear of Muslims is utterly disgraceful. 431 Of course, Muslims are an easy target: Islamic State (Isis) is doing a pretty bad PR job for Islam. But most Muslims do not support terrorism, either here or overseas. A small group of zealots support Isis and want to join its fight. If there are 50 jihadists in Australia who would fight with Isis (unlikely), that represents about two Australians in a million who are sharply at odds with us. Is two in a million really a big enough threat to encourage us to abandon long- held principles of justice, fairness and liberty? Advertisement Abbott has suggested that we should not give the benefit of the doubt when making decisions about bail. It is an interesting point. Bail exists to give effect to the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty. A person charged with any offence (other than the most serious) is presumed to be entitled to bail, so they do not have to stay in jail until their trial. Those charged with, for example, murder, are presumed not entitled to bail. The presumption for or against bail can be displaced by evidence. The possibility of bail is important, especially when the trial may be six or 12 months away. I wonder how many Australians would approve the idea of jailing a person pending trial “just in case” they might commit an offence. Especially as a person charged is presumed innocent, and may be found not guilty. It is an essential principle of our system that a person should not be punished unless they have been convicted of an offence. The legal system has plenty of examples of people who are charged and then acquitted at trial. Bail is available so that a person who might ultimately be acquitted is not punished in the meantime. Equally, there are examples of people who are charged, acquitted and then go and commit an offence. It would contradict centuries of legal thinking and social attitudes to say that the person should have been held in jail “just in case”. Punishment in advance of an offence, or in anticipation of the possibility of an offence, is utterly inconsistent with long-accepted social norms. Similarly, privacy is a widely accepted principle. The possibility that the movements and conversations of all citizens could be tracked by government agencies cannot be reconciled with accepted social values. 432 Abbott’s recent comments about the threat of terrorism were plainly directed at the risk of Muslim terrorism. Andrew Bolt’s writing frequently plays up the risk of Muslim terrorism. Both Abbott and Bolt have voices which are widely heard and uncritically accepted. They are both significant elements of an increasing anti-Muslim sentiment in the community. If Abbott has his way, that sentiment is going to be harnessed by the government to introduce laws which will cut down basic civil liberties, in particular by restricting bail and enlarging Asio’s powers to spy on the public at large by use of electronic data. Before we are frightened into accepting the sort of legislation Abbott foreshadowed, it is worth recalling the sober warning of Benjamin Franklin, who said: Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. In December 2004, the House of Lords decided a case about English legislation which provided for detention of people thought to present a terrorist risk if they could not be deported. In an 8:1 decision, the House of Lords determined that the laws did not comply with the UK Human Rights Act. Lord Hoffmann said: … the real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its tradition laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. OPINION 19 Feb 2015 Freedom In Abbott's Australia: Did Someone Say Racism? By Carl Rhodes It seems freedom of speech is a pretty subjective thing in Team Australia, suggests Professor Carl Rhodes. 433 There has a lot been said in 2015 about freedom of speech. In the wake of the Hedbo massacre in Paris pundits and politicians have been hailing it as a central value of democracy. Never one to pass up on the opportunity to breathe life into his faltering ratings in the opinion polls, Tony Abbott stepped up with vigour. Condemned were the ‘Islamists’ for their hatred of democratic freedom. Even more recently, after bullets were showered over a Copenhagen café hosting satirical cartoonist Lars Vilks, Abbott was on the front foot proclaiming that “the Copenhagen attack is an affront to one of our most fundamental values - freedom of speech”. Abbot is clearly making a distinction between who he sees as the ‘us’ and the ‘them’. When he speaks of ‘our’ values it is quite clear who is included and excluded by this possessive pronoun. When Stephen Hicks shot and killed three Muslim students in the United States earlier this month, Abbott was not rushing to the press gallery to condemn terrorism. He was silent. The freedom Abbott speaks of appears only to be one that is to be directed against terrorists who he can associate with Islam. Terrorism in Africa and Pakistan is off Abbott’s radar. So is the Islamic condemnation of what he refers to with rhetorical flourish as the ‘Islamic State death cult’. Did someone say racism? Abbott stands up proud and righteous when condemning Islamic terrorists, but there is no comment when it comes to white terrorists. It seems that the freedom of speech that Abbott himself exercises is most selective. It is reserved for defending Western victims against non-western terrorists. The freedom of speech that is so central to democracy is not just about people being able to say whatever they want. Fundamentally it is about the freedom to speak out against power. This is a freedom that resists religious and political dogma by asserting the fundamental democratic ‘right to critique’. 434 The right to critique means we do not have to accept the injunctions of authority and are free to question and oppose them. This is a right that sets out to limit political power by always accepting that the people can speak out against it. The right to critique is not selective. For democracy it applies universally. Not so it seems for the present Australian government, who are well known for trying to quash any dissent that isn’t issued by them. Recent criticism of the effects of the ‘stop the boats’ policy on children in detention by the Human Rights Commission was slammed by Abbot. He suggested that those who had spoken out of the issues of physical and sexual abuse of children should be ashamed of themselves. Freedom of speech? Criticizing this government is just not to be tolerated. Where is freedom of speech when Abbott went on record saying that it was a ‘sacking offence’ for anyone in his office to background against MPs. No talk of freedom either when public broadcasters ABC and SBS suffered funding cuts. Criticism over Abbot’s ‘captain’s call’ to knight Prince Phillip were dismissed. “Electronic graffiti,” he called it. So whose free speech should the government listen to? In response to criticisms over Prince Philip’s knighthood, Coalition MP Michael McCormack spoke up from the backbenches urging Abbott not to worry about “texting, latte-sipping, keyboard warriors who frequent the tapas bars of Sydney and Melbourne”. Criticisms levelled by “tea-leaf reading groups” who busy themselves on Twitter are also to be shunned. McCormack advised Abbott to hurry along to the Royal Hotel in Grong Grong. It would be there, in a Riverina farming village far from the city life, that Abbott could get his hands on the opinion of real Australia. This claim to the location of the real public voice reflects a deeply discriminatory and exclusionary politics. The ‘latte’ McCormack refers to is, of course, a drink that was brought to Australia by immigrants, welcomed by a country still beholden to the White Australia policy. 435 There’s none of that in the Royal Hotel, which opened in 1875 in Grong Grong. A town where nine in every 10 people were born in Australia, and Christianity is by far the majority religion. If anything, the demographic of Grong Grong is not so far from that of Abbott’s cabinet. This is an image of Australia that does not reflect who its ‘public’ really are. Of course, the opinion of people in Grong Grong matters, but it does not matter more than anyone else’s opinion. A government which only listens to those who it sees in its own white image, and which selectively condemns terrorism when it is committed against the west, is not a government that believes in democracy. As far as this government is concerned, in today’s Australia, free speech and the right to critique are unequally distributed along racial or religious lines. * Carl Rhodes is a Professor of Management and Organization Studies, within the Department of Marketing and Management at theMacquarie University, Sydney. Apr 5, 2014 David Marr on race, votes and free speech David Marr Yes, George, people do have a right to be bigots. And political parties have a right to harvest their votes. That’s what’s going on here. Gutting the Racial Discrimination Act isn’t about free speech or vindicating a star News Corp columnist. Not really. It’s a clever gambit to persuade a slice of the electorate that Tony Abbott is running a government after their own hearts – one that understands, even respects, what they feel about Aborigines, immigrants, Muslims and boat people. It’s the race vote. Both sides of politics are keen to recruit and careful to hold the affection of the Australia of old race fears. It’s not a small constituency. 436 Whose heart wouldn’t leap to see a government going all out for free speech? How wonderful it is to hear George Brandis and Abbott singing psalms to liberty. Their enthusiasm seems to herald a profound change of thinking for the Coalition. In John Howard’s time, dissenting NGOs were terrified of losing their funding; the national museum was turned over for honouring black deaths on the frontier; armies of police were mobilised against demonstrators; the press was barred absolutely from the battle against the boats; parliament passed sedition laws of unprecedented severity; and the ABC endured more than a decade of abuse for not thinking the way the government wanted it to think. What’s changed under Abbott? The ABC is under attack again. So great is the secrecy surrounding the boats, his government is backing attempts by PNG to shut down judicial inquiries into the conditions on Manus and plans never to release police reports into the recent mayhem and death on the island. In his other guise as minister for the arts, Senator Brandis has told the Australia Council it must punish demonstrators against the government. “Artists like everybody else are entitled to voice their political opinions,” he assured the chairman of the Australia Council Rupert Myer. But he denounced as appalling and shameful the Sydney Biennale turning down money from a private sponsor enriched by the running of prison camps on Manus and Nauru. Brandis bluntly threatened Myer: he must either promise that “Australia Council funding would no longer be available” to an arts body under these circumstances or he would intervene as minister to impose the rule himself. “You will readily understand that taxpayers will say to themselves: ‘If the Sydney Biennale doesn’t need Transfield’s money, why should they be asking for ours?’” It doesn’t feel like a fresh dawn of liberty. Yet Brandis and Abbott are claiming that in the noble cause of free speech, the Racial Discrimination Act is to be gutted to allow unrestrained attacks on blacks, Jews, Chinese and the rest in the course of “public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter”. 437 The present act has to be changed – a little. Hurt feelings should never attract the law as they do now under section 18C. Offence and insults are the everyday reality of free discourse. But this proposal goes so much further. What was once excused in private would be licensed in public. The law would set no brake on racial vilification in almost any imaginable public discourse. Why would a government propose such a thing? It would save Andrew Bolt. His was not a freedom of speech problem but a problem of shoddy journalism. He didn’t come a cropper under the act for examining a delicate subject – the aboriginality of those who claim to be Aboriginal – but for getting it spectacularly wrong. Even before he appeared in the Federal Court, Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times had to admit that nine of the 18 pale blacks he mocked and derided for adopting Aboriginality late in life had grown up from childhood regarding themselves and being regarded as Aborigines. These facts were readily available, said Justice Mordecai Bromberg, “including by Mr Bolt contacting the individuals concerned. Mr Bolt presented evidence of having undertaken some online research about the individuals, but it was not evidence upon which I could be satisfied that a diligent attempt had been made to make reasonable inquiries.” Bromberg clearly despised Bolt’s language, but getting the facts so wrong lost the columnist the free speech protections of the act. The Abbott/Brandis solution is to get rid of 18D’s demand for fairness, accuracy, good faith and reasonableness. With those consigned to the dustbin it doesn’t really matter what a new 18C might have to say about vilification and intimidation. It would be a new era of anything goes in public discourse on race. But Bolt is a constituency of one. True he is a great friend of the prime minister and the Coalition, but blaming the gutting of the Racial Discrimination Act on a highly protected columnist of News Corp gives him too much credit. There are big numbers in play here: the millions in this country who, like him, are troubled by race. Brandis might call them bigots but his party wants their vote. So does Labor. The temper of public life in this country is often determined by the answer to a single question: what are politicians willing to offer this constituency to win its vote? 438 Mapping the Australia of old race fears is one of the tasks of the Scanlon Foundation’s impeccable annual surveys of social cohesion. The 2013 survey found 25 per cent of us have “negative sentiments” about migrants from the Middle East. That’s the national figure. In suburban Brisbane add another 10 per cent. On the Atherton Tableland dislike edges up to 42 per cent. Polling in a handful of centres in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia shows 28 to 45 per cent of those living in these rural and suburban communities troubled by Muslims. Pollsters don’t call the issue race. They call it cultural diversity. Professor Andrew Markus of Monash University who conducts the surveys for the Scanlon Foundation says of Australia: “There is a core of 10 per cent and a wider group around 25 to 30 per cent with strong negative views towards cultural diversity.” And those numbers seem to be growing. This is a tolerant country that absorbs migrants with astonishing success. But politics in Australia cannot be understood unless we face the fact that strong minority resentments remain in play. Harvesting them is a matter of constant concern for strategists on both sides of the House. These are the people Abbott is after by promising to free race speech from irritating restrictions of restraint and accuracy. Meanwhile, the Minister for Education Christopher Pyne is making his pitch to the same constituency with familiar promises to strip indigenous issues from school curriculums. The figures are with him: research conducted by Auspoll for Reconciliation Australia in 2012 shows about a third of us don’t think Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are important to our national identity. Nearly 20 per cent of us don’t think it’s important even to know about them. Good pickings there. But the trick here is never, no matter how distasteful the strategy, to disgust the wider, more tolerant electorate. Howard was a master of the art of staying this side of the contemptible, 439 always so carefully disguising what he was about: “We will decide who comes to this country…” The cry of freedom has not given Abbott’s strategy a cloak of invisibility. It’s looking disgusting. Abbott appears to have misjudged. News Corp is campaigning full throttle on his behalf. So are many with a pure commitment to absolute free speech. An Essential poll this week shows the prime minister also has a good chunk of the public on his side: 38 per cent are for and 44 per cent against changing the Racial Discrimination Act. Yet he is at an impasse. He has made some implacable enemies along the way. The Jewish community will not let this issue go. Nor will key leaders of the black community. The senate is opposed. Even a few Liberal backbenchers are in open revolt. But even if Abbott is forced to retreat, he will have done his work. Out there in every town and suburb of this country are voters pleased to think that in Canberra there’s a man and a government happy to let them say what they really think about darkies and slopes and Muzzies. They will call this what Abbott calls it: freedom. This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 5, 2014 as "Race, votes and free speech". Subscribe here. 20 October 2014, 9.10am AEDT Bishop backs down on burqas, with a twist S Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate President Stephen Parry have reversed their decision to segregate veiled women watching… Author 1. 440 Michelle Grattan Professorial Fellow at University of Canberra Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop has backed down on her proposal to segregate people wearing head coverings in Parliament. Lukas Coch/AAP Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate President Stephen Parry have reversed their decision to segregate veiled women watching parliamentary proceedings – but the women will have to show their faces on entering the building. The backdown followed an outcry over the ruling – which would have put these women behind glass rather than in the chambers' open galleries – and the intervention of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who said it should be reversed. The glassed-in areas are usually reserved for school parties. Bishop and Parry met on Sunday to discuss their next step. Abbott could not formally order them to change their ruling but he had left them with no practical option. A statement from the Department of Parliamentary Services this morning said all visitors to Parliament House would be required to temporarily remove any facial coverings. “This will enable DPS security staff to identify any person who may have been banned from entering Parliament House or who may be known, or discovered, to be a security risk.” After that, visitors would be “free to move about the public spaces of the building, including all chamber galleries, with facial coverings in place”. This morning Parry and parliamentary officials will give evidence to a Senate estimates committee on the background to the original decision, which came on the last day of the last sitting. UPDATE: Parry told the Senate estimates committee he and Bishop had decided on the segregation after advice that “a group of people, some being male, were going to disrupt question time in the House of Representatives. The advice further indicated that this group would be wearing garments that would prevent recognition of facial features and possibly their gender”. 441 No protest happened. Later evidence to the committee indicated the original suggestion about people in facial coverings potentially entering Parliament House went from a Nine Network crew that was in front of the building on the day to the Australian Federal Police who passed it onto parliamentary security officials. But it was thought no action was needed. That changed when the information reached the presiding officers. Parry would not go into the way in which he and Bishop came to their segregation decision but confirmed that neither the AFP nor ASIO advised it. Parry said he had not been contacted by the Prime Minister’s Office to reverse the decision. When Bishop was asked in the House: “Did the Prime Minister ask you to withdraw the ruling?” she replied, “In a word, no”. Abbott told the media at the time he had asked the Speaker to rethink the decision. Bigoted Barry Spurr: Christopher Pyne's racist reviewer Natalie Cromb 20 October 2014, 3:30pm 86 Australian historyDiscriminationEducationIndigenous AustraliaPolitics Share on facebook50 Share on twitter135 Share on linkedin1 Share on reddit1 Share on google_plusone_share Share on email More Sharing Services Flier for rally held at Sydney University on Friday (Image via Tumblr / jezababes) One of the Abbott Government’s handpicked curriculum reviewers has been shown to be a disgusting bigot, however proud member of the Kamilaroi people, Natalie Cromb, says the problem is much bigger than Barry Spurr. An academic so apparently linguistically endowed he was appointed as the English curriculum reviewer by the Federal Government, used words such as ‘abo’, ‘mussies’, ‘chinky-poos’, ‘fatsoes’ and ‘bogans’ over at least a two year period, in emails disseminated internally and externally in his capacity as Sydney University professor of poetry and poetics. 442 This Sydney University professor is none other than Barry Spurr — an advocate for the removal of Indigenous literature from the curriculum in the interests of promoting the Judeo- Christian literature because, after all, that is our “culture”. This ‘man’ ‒ if I can use that word without insulting all of the fair minded men that may read this ‒ referred to Tony Abbott as an ‘abo lover’, considered the royal visit to Uluru was inappropriate and derides Indigenous neighbours as ‘rubbish’. When exposed, however, he claimed the comments were taken out of context and were merely a tongue in cheek stab at extremist language. Whilst Mr Spurr has demonstrated a very clear disdain of those who do not possess the same complexion and outlook on race as he does, I query how someone who has risen to the position of professor at Sydney University and Federal curriculum reviewer could seriously be so arrogant and daft as to attempt to play that weak card. Indeed, a subsequent more detailed publication of Spurr’s repugnant emails indicates that his defence was nothing more than a blatant self-serving fabrication. Sydney University has, quite rightly, suspended Mr Spurr while an investigation is undertaken. Obviously, there is an internal procedure that needs to be followed, however, the only reasonable outcome is that he ought to be removed from his position. He does not deserve the position of educating others if he holds such insular and disgusting views. But what of the Federal Government? This hand-picked member of Christopher Pyne’s education review was implicitly supported by the education minister — who refuses to reconsider Spurr's review of the English curriculum and, indeed, explicitly supports his reviewer's stance on the supremacy of Australia’s Judeo-Christian heritage. Christopher Pyne, appearing on ABC Lateline a week ago, said: 443 “Before 1788, our history was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history almost exclusively. Since that time, obviously since colonisation, Western civilisation, our Judeo-Christian heritage has been the basis of our development as a nation.” And Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister of Australia, has also said this year: “The First Fleet was the defining moment in the history of this continent.” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has, however, rightly indicated that this is a very serious concern and one that needs to be addressed. Shorten said the government needs to: “… reassure Australians that the views of the reviewer and the disgusting remarks have in no way infiltrated the curriculum which is taught to all our young Australians.’’ That reassurance is likely never to be made given the Government is whitewashing the curriculum and focussing solely on the Indigenous culture as a fixture in history rather than a living, breathing, developing cultural reality. In short, it is clear that the Government supports the underlying bigotry and white supremacist views of Barry Spurr. The evidence continues to mount that this is a government that seeks to divide, not unite. It seeks to repudiate history by rewriting and sanitising the atrocities committed against the Indigenous people in order to maintain their covert policy of assimilation and covert racism. Barry Spurr is a symptom of this nation’s problem; its disease; its virulent case of prejudice. We have a culture among a large portion of the majority ‒ that is, white Australians ‒ that accept a certain level of prejudice. This attitude is supported in everyday conversations where you may hear varying examples of the same recurring themes:  I don’t have a problem with migrants, provided they come the right way…  Aboriginal people need to get over the past and get on with things….. 444  I don’t have a problem with racism, I just don’t like Muslims, that’s different….  Don’t be so politically correct, it’s all in good fun [usually said after racist remark]…  I’m not racism my [insert friend, colleague etc] is [insert race reference]… At no point is racism or religious bigotry funny. At no point is it “good fun”. At no point is it acceptable to denigrate a group of people based on the views you hold — even if there are a group of equally herd-minded people ready to follow along with you on the path to intellectual nothingness. This issue is pervasive. It is in schools among teachers and students, it is in the workplace, it is in the media and it is in the community. Racism and religious bigotry is rife and the division in society is being actively contributed to by the Abbott Government. The Government is asking you to be vigilant (read: fearful) of terrorism, whilst instructing the media to release images of citizens that prescribe to the Islamic faith; it is asking us to get on board with “Team Australia” — meaning assimilate to the Judeo-Christian ‘culture’. Barry Spurr’s attempt to deflect from the atrocious views he has put into words speaks to his complete lack of remorse. He said initially that it was a play on words. He later accuses the journalists at New Matilda of having hacked into his email and makes all sorts of assertions about his legal team investigating the alleged hacking — however he has not once come out and said that what he wrote was wrong. He has not given voice to the concept that to condemn a group of people on the basis of race or religion is reprehensible. 445 Barry Spurr is not sorry for the remarks he has made, nor the offence caused, he is outraged that he got caught and was the alleged victim of an invasion of privacy (as he puts it). Whilst Barry Spurr clearly deserves our disgust, we must remember that he is the symptom, not the disease. This problem is larger than Barry Spurr, it is larger than Sydney University and it is larger than some disgusting emails. Racism and bigotry like Spurr’s is a cancer eating at the core of Australian society, tearing us apart from within — and will only get worse while our Government tries to whitewash our history and heritage. You can follow Natalie on Twitter @NatalieCromb. Bronwyn Bishop and Stephen Parry personally added 'burqa ban' to official advice Senate president said the interim ban was influenced by two pieces of advice – but officials contradict his account • Backdown on ‘burqa ban’ – Monday’s political developments  Lenore Taylor and Daniel Hurst   theguardian.com, Monday 20 October 2014 11.51 AEST  Jump to comments (288) Speaker Bronwyn Bishop. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP Image The Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, and the president of the Senate, Stephen Parry, personally added the controversial “burqa ban” in parliament house to official security advice because they feared a group was intending to disrupt parliament. 446 And the two presiding officers deny they have now reversed this “interim” decision at the request of the prime minister, although Tony Abbott clearly stated he had asked them to rethink it. On 3 October Abbott said “I asked the Speaker to rethink that decision.” Asked after question time “Did you Madam Speaker receive a receive a request from the prime minister to reconsider the policy?” Bishop replied: “In a word, no.” Parry also told Senate estimates he had not spoken to the prime minister’s office about the ban. A statement from the prime minister’s office suggests the difference might come down to what constitutes a “formal request”. “The prime minister spoke to the speaker the day the revised security arrangements were announced. He made clear his views on the changed arrangements. No formal request was made to change the arrangements as they are a matter for the presiding officers,” a spokeswoman said. Bishop said the decision had been based on advice of “an action planned that would disrupt the business of the house” but would not say where that advice had come from. Parry said he had based his decision to add the “interim” ban on two pieces of advice, but one of the officials he cited as giving him that advice said she had not been told of any intended “disruption”, but only that a group wearing facial coverings intended to “enter” parliament house. Parry also conceded that “Asio and the AFP were not involved” in the decision. The Senate official, the usher of the black rod, Rachel Callinan, told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday that she had received a call mid-morning on 2 October – the date of the controversial “interim” decision – from the parliamentary security operations manager who “said he had become aware that a film crew was on the forecourt (of parliament house) because they believed a group of people were planning to enter question time wearing burqas”. Callinan said she had passed this information to Parry. 447 Bishop said the decision had been based on advice of “an action planned that would disrupt the business of the house” but would not say where that advice had come from. Despite having now reversed the interim decision, Parry said it had been “prudent” because of advice that a group of perhaps 10 people, some of whom might be male, intended to disrupt parliament. He said that before the permanent ruling, issued on Monday, it was possible for people with facial coverings to enter parliament without ever being identified. Facial identification will now take place when people enter and therefore normal movement can be allowed after that. He said he had been advised of an intended “disruption” by the Speaker’s office as well as Callinan, but would not discuss who had provided the information to the Speaker’s office or why he had considered it to be credible, given that it had not come from Asio, the AFP or parliamentary security management. The secretary of the department of parliamentary services, Carol Mills, said the original warning about a “potential protest” possibly occurring outside parliament house that day had come from the Australian Federal Police. Her staff had notified others in parliament house, including the usher. Mills confirmed the draft rules she and her staff had prepared did not include the ban on facial coverings. That had been added after a “robust” discussion at the meeting with the presiding officers. Callinan said parliament’s security management board – comprising herself, the sergeant at arms and the secretary of the department of parliamentary services – had no formal meetings either at the time of the interim decision or since. But the officers had attended a meeting in the Speaker’s office that day - the final day of the last parliamentary sitting – where the Speaker and the Senate president took the decision to add the interim ban. In a new information circular issued to parliamentarians and staff on Monday morning, the department of parliamentary services backed down on the most controversial element. 448 Explaining the new interim arrangements, the department said: “All visitors entering parliament house will be required to temporarily remove any coverings that prevent the recognition of facial features. “This will enable DPS security staff to identify any person who may have been banned from entering parliament house or who may be known, or discovered, to be a security risk. Once this process has taken place, visitors are free to move about the public spaces of the building, including all chamber galleries, with facial coverings in place.” The Right’s right to be wrong  October 18, 2014  Written by: Roswell We are told that Islamophobia doesn't exist in Australia. Really? (image from couriermail.com.au)  Category: Politics  permalink  Roswell Has anyone else noticed the ever increasing drift from reality those famous bed-partners – the Coalition and the Murdoch media – have settled comfortably into? Not only have they drifted into a land that resembles nothing like the one where we others dwell, they also have some absurd idea that this new, fabulous paradise is all that exists. But alas, unbeknown to them it renders them ignorant, and oh so hypocritical. 449 Take Joe Hockey for example. He repeatedly bellowed that the age of entitlement was over, and followed up with a budget that showed us that the age of entitlement is of course over, except for those who are entitled to it. It’s a strange world he lives in. It’s not in this universe. Miranda Devine lives there too. Her blog piece, ‘The Left’s race to call us all bigots‘ was the inspiration for my satirical response in calling this piece ‘The Right’s right to be wrong’. I didn’t have to read all the article to see how wrong, hypocritical, and off the planet Ms Devine must be. I got as far as the first two sentences: The self-appointed tolerance tsars of Australia are having such a hard time proving Australia is a land of bigots they are now jumping at shadows. They see racism where most people see patriotism. They cry Islamophobia where there is none to be found. They hear dog whistles that never sounded. They are obviously losing their collective minds. There is much in those claims to dispute, but I want to focus on Islamophobia where there is none to be found. Maybe Ms Devine hasn’t been reading the very paper she writes for, which over the last month has been belting us with the news that does nothing more than highlight that we live in a country where Islamophobia has become a part of the national psyche. Let’s take a random look at what her newspaper – and other media outlets – have been saying: # Young filmmaker Kamal Saleh is optimistic for the future of Australia after his social experiment on Islamophobia but says discrimination remains an issue in the community. # Five threatening letters delivered to Muslim businesses and groups in Lakemba are being investigated by police, with more incidents believed to be going unreported. Campsie crime manager detective Inspector Paul Albury said the material was offensive and would be to 450 anybody in the community. “It’s degrading, disgusting and derogatory to people and their religion,” he said. # Last week, after Bernardi’s comments, I was interviewed by the ABC for an explanatory article on the burqa, the niqab, and my choice of garment, the hijab, which covers only a woman’s hair, neck and shoulders. Bizarrely, when posted by the ABC on Facebook, the article received more comments than the ABC’s reports on the anti-terror raids themselves. The comments section is sobering reading for anyone with any doubts about the perniciousness of Islamophobia in Australia. # Australia has emerged as a fertile environment for Islamophobia. Stereotypical representations of Muslims in the early years of the “War on Terror” – which linked terrorism, violence and Islam – gained wide currency by the mid-2000s. Sections of the news media, politicians and social media have re-activated these stereotypes. Muslim Australians are made to feel they are targets – for everything from the everyday racism encountered in schools and on the streets, to draconian counter-terrorism legislation that restricts civil liberties, to war and the preparations for war. # In the contemporary socio-political context of Australia, Islamophobia continues to be haunted by the cycle of moral panics around the Muslim “Other.” # Tony Abbott has been urged to speak out more strongly against Islamophobia in Australia following reports of mosques being defaced, women verbally abused on the street and death threats issued to Muslim figures. Community leaders have said they are deeply worried that Australia’s mission against Islamic State (Isis) and recent anti-terrorism raids are fuelling attacks against Muslims in Australia. # The waves of abuse on social media has also highlighted how open bigotry has become, as if the disgust around the Islamic State has given a free pass to intolerance. # Many Muslim women, say Ms Kay and other community members,are fearful of going out and many won’t venture far beyond their homes. Ahmed Kilani, editor of website muslimvillage.com, says some are now questioning whether Australia is still a safe and tolerant society. “My own mother rang me yesterday,” Mr Kilani told SBS, “with concern about what’s going, she said, ‘I don’t feel safe and secure.’ She made the comment to me that 451 despite living here for 40 years which is a lot longer than she lived in Egypt. She said perhaps I need to consider moving back there and questioned whether I should go and get myself a dual citizenship in case things get really bad.” Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has called for calm, saying, “Muslim Australians are entitled to a fair go and to be treated with respect and there is simply no place for this kind of bigotry and this kind of criminal behaviour.” I’m sure by now that you get my point. And to top it off The Daily Telegraph – the very paper Ms Devine works for – even published an article titled ‘Incidents of Islamophobia‘. I’m baffled that Ms Devine finds it necessary not only to blame the Left for Islamophobia in this country – then announces that it doesn’t exist here anyway – yet works in an industry (and a newspaper) that keeps telling us how rampant it is. If I may borrow an old adage: who makes this shit up? The drift from reality is almost complete. She is quickly catching up to Joe Hockey. Malcolm has gone too Far(r)  February 1, 2016  Written by: Roswell  16 Replies “What’s Tony Abbott up to?” was the headline that linked to an article from Malcolm Farr about Tony Abbott’s meeting with US President Barack Obama. One wonders why Abbott would want to meet with Obama, but one wonders even more why Obama would want to meet with Abbott. Why would the most powerful man in the world want to meet with a knuckle-dragging universal embarrassment like Tony Abbott? Farr’s answer had me choking on my sandwich: 452 . . . sources encouraged the perception that Mr Obama and other senior US figures were keen to consult Mr Abbott on international affairs . . . I’ll say it again in case you missed it: . . . sources encouraged the perception that Mr Obama and other senior US figures were keen to consult Mr Abbott on international affairs . . . You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. What on earth has a policy barren, bungling Luddite like Abbott got to offer anybody, let alone Obama? Abbott opposes just about everything Obama stands for, notably wanting to tackle climate change and introduce universal health care – which Abbott wanted to destroy back home, and the extent of his knowledge on international affairs is restricted to wanting to bomb the crap out of the Middle East and telling Europe to close its borders to refugees. I’d be surprised if Abbott had even heard of America before he became Prime Minister. He has about as much to offer them as the skinny dead mouse I found behind my piano. Malcolm’s article gets worse when he introduces Kevin Andrews into the story. He writes that: It is as if Mr Andrews was so shaken by Mr Turnbull’s inability to recognise his brilliance he has sought the comfort of Washington, where his ministerial sparkle still dazzles. Holy crap! Andrews couldn’t even sparkle if he was covered in fairy dust. Bloody hell, Malcolm, did you make this stuff up? You’re kidding, right? "https://assets.guim.co.uk/stylesheets/8c9e44b6094bdbb9ba6de7d211d7ec93/co ntent.css"/> The Guardian 453 Malcolm Turnbull's talking points leaked in sign of Liberal disunity PM’s advice to colleagues leaked to media within hours of being sent to MPs and senators before the first parliamentary sitting day of 2016 Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull arrive for an ecumenical service to mark the start of the parliamentary year in Canberra on Tuesday. Turnbull’s talking points for his Liberal colleagues were leaked overnight. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian Australian Associated Press Tuesday 2 February 2016 08.22 AEDT Last modified on Tuesday 2 February 2016 08.24 AEDT There are further signs of disunity in Coalition ranks after talking points prepared by the prime minister’s office for MPs and senators were leaked to the media before the first day of parliament for the year. An image criticising union donations to Labor from Liberal party talking points leaked to media. Photograph: Liberal party The talking points were leaked within hours of being sent out on Monday night and canvassed topics such as jobs and growth, innovation, school funding and the royal commission into trade unions, the ABC reported. The email included a social media meme mocking union donations to the Labor party. The talking points ask party members to focus on jobs and growth, the government’s innovation plan, proposed changes to pathology services, school funding and the trade union royal commission. They include the line: “Can Bill Shorten point to a single savings measure that Labor is proposing, other than scrapping the $1.3bn emissions reduction fund and replacing it with a carbon tax that will hit every Australian family when it comes to paying the electricity bill?” 454 The finance minister, Mathias Cormann, played down claims of dissent within the government. “I believe the Turnbull government is a strong and united team,” he told ABC Radio. There was nothing unusual about a government communicating with MPs and senators about its priorities and why its approach was better than the opposition, he said. The resources minister, Josh Frydenberg, acknowledged some people within the Coalition might be disgruntled but said this did not reflect a broader sense of disunity. Tony Abbott's decision to stay may finally force Turnbull to take a stand Lenore Taylor -------- Original Message -------- SubjeTony Abbott's decision to stay may finally force Turnbull to take a ct: stand,Lenore Taylor,Lenore Taylor, 25.01.16 Date:Tue, 02 Feb 2016 10:52:49 +1100 Opinion Tony Abbott's decision to stay may finally force Turnbull to take a stand Lenore Taylor The prime minister can no longer avoid glaring differences of opinion in the Liberal party. In the long run, a frank conversation will benefit everyone 455 ‘The public liked Malcolm Turnbull (right) because he seemed different to Tony Abbott, but his colleagues voted for him because they were eventually persuaded he would be – in essence – pretty much the same.’ Photograph: Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images Contact author @lenoretaylor Monday 25 January 2016 13.13 AEDT Last modified on Monday 25 January 2016 13.28 AEDT Tony Abbott’s decision to stay in parliament has widely been seen as a bad thing for Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal party because it might be destabilising, because there might be dissent. But that same process could have an upside for voters, by making it more difficult for Turnbull to fudge his position on key issues and by forcing the party to debate and decide where it stands. Tony Abbott confirms he intends to stay in parliament and will recontest Warringah seat Former prime minister ends speculation about his political future, announcing he is ‘renominating to represent the people of Warringah for another term as their Liberal MP’ Read more The central dilemma for Turnbull’s prime ministership was obvious from the start. The public liked Turnbull because he seemed different to Abbott, but his colleagues voted for him because they were eventually persuaded he would be – in essence – pretty much the same. But to make an informed decision at the next election, voters need more than a reassuring change in the tone of the debate. They need to know whether, and exactly how, the new prime minister has changed both policy and substance. We now know his predecessor will hover, as one commentator put it, as the “eagle-like symbol of conservative empire” – presumably pouncing on deviations from his government’s line. Or as a “senior source close to Abbott’ told the Daily Telegraph, “his intention is to be a 456 standard-bearer for the conservatives” with “the problem for the Liberal party” being “if it is seen as a centre-left party rather than a centre-right party”. The eagle eyes of the conservatives will make it more difficult for Turnbull to be all things to all people, or to skirt around issues where internal differences of opinion might make avoidance an attractive option. And while many wouldn’t see it that way right now, and there are all the obvious political dangers of an angry former prime minister waiting in the wings as a focus for dissenting opinion, in some ways this could be a good thing for the Liberal party in the longer term. The party has always had to find an accommodation between its liberal and conservative views, even though the lines of ideologically based factions have blurred during years of conservative dominance and positions once viewed as clearly small l Liberal are now seen by some in Coalition ranks as crazy left. It could be in Turnbull’s, and the party’s interests, to have a frank conversation if that accommodation is to be revisited, despite the obvious pain involved and dangers that legitimate differences of opinion are often immediately elevated in the political debate to irrevocable “splits”. Turnbull’s popularity, and Abbott’s lack of it, would provide the new prime minister with political protection during the process. Sneered at, patronised, and condemned, Abbott battles on. And that's a good thing Tom Switzer You might think the former PM is staying in parliament because he can’t get a job doing anything else, but you’d be wrong Read more At the moment the Coalition is straddling a range of positions where Turnbull’s rhetoric and record sit very uneasily with the policy reality.  Turnbull’s peace deal with his party means he has to retain Direct Action as his climate policy, even though the Paris agreement makes it even less tenable as a long- term way to reach Australia’s greenhouse gas reduction targets. At some time Turnbull 457 will have to confront the reality that a credible climate policy cannot be driven by conservative climate sceptics and that his policy is not tenable for a leader with the record on this issue that he has.  Very early in his prime ministership, Turnbull said “fairness” would be at the heart of any economic changes he made. But he and his treasurer Scott Morrison appear convinced the central goal of their tax policy – probably the most important thing they will announce before this year’s election – is boosting growth by reducing company and personal taxes. That’s a fine goal, but it leaves out of the equation the need to fix the looming hospitals funding crisis. That is a practical problem given the need for state government agreement for any changes to the GST and a social problem, since – as South Australian premier Jay Weatherill has noted – an unfunded hospitals system is incredibly unfair for low-income earners. One reason the government is hoping it can skirt the premiers’ desire for a tax rise/spending trade-off with competition payments or short-term “transitional schemes” is a fear of the internal backlash against simply raising taxes to fund more spending. There really should be better, publicly debated reasons for that kind of decision. GST debate: Scott Morrison backs need for option to raise tax as part of reforms Treasurer says possibility of an increase needs to be on table if voters want relief from the effects of ‘bracket creep’ in income tax Read more  Turnbull has pledged to retain the plebiscite on same-sex marriage – which he argued against as a member of Abbott’s cabinet. He has not yet said whether he will take up backbencher Warren Entsch’s suggestion to pass legislation before the election to allow same-sex marriage, which would come into force with the successful passage of the plebiscite afterwards. Despite the plebiscite being Abbott’s own stated policy, this idea has been attacked by conservative ex-minister Eric Abetz as an “ambush”.  Turnbull has not clarified where he stands on Abbott-era policies sitting orphaned by the hostile Senate and even more hostile public opinion. The December budget still 458 included almost $14bn in “savings” from Abbott’s first budget that have been rejected by the Senate and the electorate – including the higher education reforms and the revamped, and for the most part re-rejected, cuts to payments for low-income families. Flushing out clear answers to these kind of questions would surely be a good thing. Strong leaders can benefit from dissent. Malcolm’s talking points  February 2, 2016  Written by: Kaye Lee  Kaye Lee Last night, Malcolm Turnbull sent out the script to his cast of parrots who are apparently incapable of thinking for themselves. The “talking points” were immediately leaked to the press. Predictably, the majority of it related to the trade union Royal Commission and Bill Shorten’s testimony, but it was the rest of it that should be prompting questions. Under the heading Economic Management, we hear nothing at all about this government’s performance or intentions, just the same old attacks on Labor. 459 Labor’s Budget black hole is almost $50 billion and they have no way to fund it. Which taxes is Labor going to increase? Hockey’s first two budgets yielded a $90 billion deficit and the 2015 MYEFO predicts a cumulative deficit of $108.3 billion over the next four years. And we know which tax increase Labor is going to oppose. How can Labor seriously argue it has any credibility on the budget and maintaining competent economic management, given its blatantly populist approach to every issue that it has engaged on the past 2 ½ years? Coming from the slogan party who has spent hundreds of millions on media monitoring and focus groups, the accusation of populism is somewhat laughable. And steering us unscathed through the GFC brought praise from the whole world for Labor’s economic management. Can Bill Shorten point to a single saving measure that Labor is proposing, other than scrapping the $1.3 billion emissions reduction fund and replacing it with a carbon tax that will hit every Australian family when it comes to paying the electricity bill? Scrapping the Direct Action debacle and introducing an ETS would raise revenue in the tens of billions. Labor’s proposed crackdown on multinational tax avoidance is projected to raise $20 billion over the next decade. Their crackdown on fraudulent claiming of business usage for cars would have saved another $1.8 billion had the Coalition not scrapped it supposedly to ‘save’ the car industry. They also had a plan to tax superannuation retirement income of over $100,000 pa but the Coalition scrapped that too. Instead, they have passed on an $80 billion black hole to the States by withdrawing funding for hospitals and schools. Morrison is determined to protect tax concessions for the wealthy, another area that Labor is prepared to look at. Labor has criticised the Government for – in Bill Shorten’s own words – being ‘soft’ on multinationals, and yet Labor’s own policies in this area would only raise $1.9 billion, a tiny fraction of Labor’s $50.1 billion fiscal black hole. Treasury has criticised the policy, arguing it won’t work and may be counterproductive. 460 I can find no record of criticism from Treasury apart from Joe Hockey’s say so but there are numerous quotes from people like Jennifer Westacott and Kate Carnell saying that asking multinationals to pay tax would curb investment – the same line they always have and always will use. Isn’t this just another example of Bill Shorten’s policy populism to hide the fact that Labor has no real economic plan or credibility? I have not heard anything from the Coalition about a plan other than “everything is on the table except….” Two and a half years on and what have they achieved? Under the heading The Tax System, we still hear nothing except criticism of Labor – no Coalition plan in sight despite their insistence that the Opposition release fully costed policies for a balanced budget. Labor’s appalling record on tax is clear Labor aren’t the ones who introduced the GST. It isn’t Labor who wants to increase it. And Hockey was the one who decided to increase the fuel excise every year. Their carbon tax just pushed up prices for households and didn’t reduce emissions To compensate for any price rises due to the carbon tax, Julia Gillard gave $7 billion worth of income tax cuts by increasing the tax free threshold from $6000 to $18200 along with other payments to low income earners and welfare recipients. Emissions dropped by 11% in the two years during which the carbon tax was in place. They rose by 4.3% in the year after it was removed and emissions intensity increased as brown coal use grew again. Their mining tax cost investments and jobs and didn’t raise any money According to a BIS Shrapnel *Mining in Australia* report, mining investment dropped by 11% in 2014-15 after the removal of the mining tax, and is set to fall a further 58 per cent over the next three years. A further 20,000 job losses in the period can be expected, coming on top of the 40,000 losses since investment peaked in 2012-13. 461 According to Treasury advice, their multinational tax plan will just cost jobs and investment As mentioned before, I can find no such advice except one sentence from Joe Hockey, and considering how wildly wrong he was in his assessment of the impact of the carbon and mining taxes, his opinion is of little value. Taxation can never make a profitable business unprofitable. They can’t be trusted on tax – don’t listen to what they say, remember what they did What good advice magic pudding … Scott Morrison this week likened a possible GST increase to turning back the boats. Tough, but needed, and he is, he said modestly, just the man to do it. Of course an alternative view might be that the bastard who brutalised refugees is moving on to brutalising poor people and workers, made confident in this by the very support he has received in locking up asylum seekers and refugees on the Manus Island and Nauru concentration camps. Increasing the rate of the GST from 10% to $15% will raise an extra $32.5 billion, according to New South Wales premier Mike Baird in the same article. That money will come from me and you. Ah but each and every defender of GST ‘reform’ says that we will be compensated with income tax cuts for workers and increased payments to welfare recipients. That sits at odds with the distribution demands of those making the case for the GST increase. Thus Mike Baird argues not just for social welfare increases and tax cuts for 462 workers but for increased State government spending on health and education to come out of the $32.5 billion magic pudding. On top of that business and politicians want to cut company tax rates from 30% to 25%, costing about $7 billion. So the obvious question is – if the GST is going to raise an extra $32.5 billion, and if some of that is diverted away from increased benefits to welfare recipients and tax cuts, to more spending on health and education and company tax cuts, doesn’t that mean that poor people and workers will not in fact be fully compensated for the 50% increase in the GST? Not only that but bracket creep will eat up the tax cut in a few years, leaving workers in the same position as they were before the increase in the GST in terms of their effective tax rates, but with an increased GST on top. Those on welfare will have their entitlements restricted and tightened as part of a general crack down on government spending. There are 2.5 million Australians, including 660,000 kids, living below the poverty line. Will these changes make them any better off? No. Talk of GST compensation is a three card trick. We should not fall for it. Since the income tax cuts to compensate for increasing the GST will not deliver real and lasting compensation for workers, and since workers are the one group in society with the power to fix that, the task of militants in our trade unions should be to argue for and organise around winning wages increases to compensate for any increased GST. Over to you militant unions and class conscious workers. Just the threat of GST wage increase strikes might cause some ruling class members to hesitate about increasing the GST. And it might help unions win back some working class support. 463 Hey unions – how about fighting for big wage increases as compensation if the GST goes up from 10% to15%? Jan 30, 2016 Absent empathy There is now every chance George Pell will not return to Australia to face the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Suppressed medical certificates allowed him to delay giving testimony in December, and it looks likely a similar appeal will be made on his behalf next week. It is an appalling thought for those who have gone through the hurt of testifying that the country’s most senior Catholic may never sit in the stand where they were heard. That he may never face them. That he may never feel the heat of their anguish. But even if this satisfaction is never offered, already we know who is George Pell. We know his is a church of business, of power over faith. We know his is a church that cynically defends itself against those it has ruined. That punishes victims and protects paedophiles. We know what George Pell told Anthony and Chrissie Foster when he arranged to meet them in the storage room of a Melbourne presbytery – them forced to sit on a slim wooden bench; him in a padded leather chair. Two of the Fosters’ daughters had been raped multiple times by the same priest, Kevin O’Donnell. The church had known of his abuse for decades, and protected him. The parents showed pictures of one daughter’s self-harm, an expression of the pain that would later see her commit suicide. “Hmmm,” Pell said without expression. “She’s changed, hasn’t she?” 464 Their other daughter is in a wheelchair, having been hit by a car, drinking to numb the trauma of her abuse. Their story is beyond appalling, the church’s offer of compensation grimly tokenistic. “If you don’t like what we are doing,” Pell said at the meeting, “take us to court.” Another of O’Donnell’s victims described meetings with Pell and members of the church as “unpleasant and distressing” and “harsh, cold and uncaring”. Anthony Foster, in an earlier inquiry, said Pell showed a “sociopathic lack of empathy, typifying the attitude and response of the Catholic hierarchy”. This is just one part. We know that, when told in 1974 by a 12-year-old that a fellow priest was abusing boys, Pell allegedly told the victim: “Don’t be ridiculous.” Pell denies this. The priest in question abused at least 20 children. We know that, when David Ridsdale told Pell he had been abused by his uncle, the priest Gerald Ridsdale, Pell allegedly responded: “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.” Pell denies this, too. Gerald Ridsdale abused at least 50 children. Pell accompanied him to court for an early appearance. We know that, when he faced the commission by video link in 2014, Pell used a bizarre analogy to limit the church’s responsibility: “If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don’t think it’s appropriate, because it is contrary to the policy, for the ownership, the leadership of that company, to be held responsible.” We know that, when the commission was announced, Pell said: “We object to being described as the only cab on the rank.” Pell seems bereft of the language to talk about pain. He seems unable to see it, certainly to feel it. On this issue he is without empathy. Perhaps he cannot see the good that could be done from fronting the commission in person. Perhaps he does not understand the power of symbol in healing. Perhaps he does not understand healing at all. 465 Perhaps he knows, deep down, that nothing he says could possibly repair the endlessly cruel- hearted things that have already been said. Abbott, Credlin ‘controlled’ Defence Minister: book  11:10pm, Feb 2, 2016 John Stapleton 5 Defence Minister David Johnston confided that he had trouble getting time alone with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott wanted David Johnston (L) kept under control. Photo: AAP Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Chief of Staff Peta Credlin directly interfered in the operations of the Defence Ministry, undermining and ultimately destroying former Defence Minister David Johnston, according to a new book. Senator Johnston was a little-known Liberal Senator from WA who held the shadow portfolio for several years before assuming the role in government as Mr Abbott’s first Defence Minister. A barrister who specialised in mining cases and had an interest in defence technology, he oversaw a sprawling bureaucracy which spent $25 billion a year. • Tony Abbott ‘used terror threat as political weapon’ • Book reveals Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin’s secrets • ‘We are signing our own death warrant’: Liberal MP • Experts want crackdown on political donations Senator Johnston’s low profile suited Mr Abbott, who wanted to make many of the major decisions in the portfolio himself. He also wanted Senator Johnston kept firmly under control. 466 Credlin & Co: How the Abbott Government Destroyed Itself, written by respected senior journalist Aaron Patrick, a deputy editor at The Australian Financial Review, explores not just the the dysfunctional relationships at the heart of the Liberal government but how Mr Abbott and Ms Credlin used their power to destroy the careers of others. Defence Minister David Johnston was dumped in favour of veteran MP Kevin Andrews. Photo: AAP As Mr Patrick writes: “The most remarkable example of Abbott and Credlin’s interference in the affairs of government ministers came in the defence portfolio. Rarely in modern Australian history has a minister had his or her power so eviscerated by political functionaries.” Shortly before assuming government, Defence Minister Johnston’s long-time political adviser was replaced with a Credlin loyalist. In opposition, Senator Johnston’s office had been run by Russell Stranger, who was admired as having a strong grasp of the portfolio. He drafted the Opposition’s Defence policy for both the 2010 and 2013 elections. But six months before the election, Ms Credlin told Mr Stranger he would not be the Defence Minister’s chief of staff in government, and would have to settle for a job as a senior adviser, a position which paid less and carried less authority. Mr Stranger ultimately left the Defence Minister’s office altogether, accusing the Prime Minister’s office of running the Defence portfolio by stealth, micro-managing the portfolio, sidelining the Defence Minister and undermining Senator Johnston’s reform agenda. Peta Credlin was influential in making decisions. Photo: AAP Instead of Mr Stranger, Mr Abbott and Ms Credlin had their own defence adviser, Andrew Shearer, a Liberal Party loyalist, former employee of John Howard and a close ally of Ms Credlin. 467 Mr Patrick writes: “Shearer enjoyed wielding power from the shadows. It took about a month for Shearer to start throwing his weight around. Shearer knew he was in a strong position. He had a direct line to Abbott through Credlin, while Johnston confided to people that he was having trouble getting time alone with the prime minister.” Mr Patrick told The New Daily interference by Mr Abbott and Ms Credlin in defence was “extremely blatant”. “It was a classic example of how they operated. They wanted to control everything and they marginalised ministers. Decisions got made in the Prime Minister’s office and others could not have an input. A lot of people in the government became very disillusioned about the way defence policy was managed,” he said. Senator Johnston had other problems, including a protracted dispute over the Defence White Paper. Senator Johnston had wanted an outsider to write a blueprint for the government’s defence strategy, and engaged Alan Dupont, a former army officer, diplomat and academic. Critics argue Professor Dupont’s belief in climate change as an impending security threat ensured his sacking, with Mr Abbott believed to have personally made the decision. Senator Johnston was so embarrassed he couldn’t bring himself to tell Professor Dupont personally. Professor Dupont, who specialises in International Security at the University of NSW, told The New Daily the interference from Mr Abbott and Ms Credlin in the development of the Defence White Paper was “substantial, even unprecedented”. “It was very disruptive procedurally to have the leader changed after four months, regardless of what you think of the credentials. And there is a lot of virtue in having an external leader, you have greater objective independence and a greater variety of views.” Another disaster was the dismissal of passionate public servant Ross Babbage, who had written several books about Australia’s defence needs. Senator Johnston asked him to lead a “first principles review” of the defence forces, a document arguably more important than the 468 White Paper and which could ultimately save the government billions in defence expenditure. Even though he was one of Australia’s foremost strategic experts, Mr Abbott’s office ultimately chose a businessman from the coal and iron ore industry. Mr Patrick concludes: “Part of Johnston’s problem was self-inflicted. He was afraid to stand up to Credlin.” Senator Johnston told The New Daily he had made it his policy not to speak about his time as Defence Minister in the Abbott government. In December 2014, Senator Johnston was replaced by Kevin Andrews, a staunch social conservative Christian and Abbott loyalist who distinguished himself by being unable to name the leader of Islamic State in an excruciatingly embarrassing interview with the ABC’s Leigh Sales. John Stapleton has worked as a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. His most recent book, Terror in Australia: Workers’ Paradise Lost is available in digital format at all major outlets, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Books and at Australia’s major online bookstore Booktopia. Ruling, not governing: what to do about our lost confidence in the body politic February 3, 2016 6.05am AEDT Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington 469 Authors 1. Peter van Onselen Foundation Professor in Journalism, University of Western Australia 2. Wayne Errington Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Adelaide Disclosure statement The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above. Tony Abbott sought to rule rather than govern, in much the same way that Kevin Rudd did. Both unravelled. AAP/Lukas Coch After five prime ministers in five years, many fear that Australia’s political system is irrevocably broken. The Conversation, in partnership with Griffith Review, is publishing a series of essays exploring the problems surrounding, and solutions to, Australia’s current political malaise. Ruling is a consequence of professional politicking. Yet it has also created unmatched instability in modern Australian politics. Professionalisation of political operations has come to dominate the way major Australian political parties function, and diminishes government and opposition alike. Tony Abbott sought to rule rather than govern, in much the same way that Kevin Rudd did after Labor was returned to power in 2007 – and both unravelled. The blame for the state of modern politics lies not just with the politicians, but with journalists, commentators and voters as well. The political culture in Australia is sick and in 470 need of treatment. The throwaway culture of consumerism has transferred into attitudes towards politicians. The selfishness of voters is only matched by politicians’ selfish grab for power. And journalists, while not entirely to blame for the way they cover politics, share the blame for the lack of focus on policy. In our view, there are three relatively simple solutions to help improve the situation, and return politics to the art of governing rather than ruling:  tighter regulation of political parties;  recognition that Australia has outgrown the two-party system and must reform institutions to remake it; and  the need to institutionalise consultation within the law-making process. Small targets Australians are not happy with the state of politics and they largely blame politicians. And why not? We have record numbers of politicians who have been trained in the arts of politics through employment in central party, ministerial and MP offices. The present generation of leaders has expert knowledge about communicating, campaigning and focus groups but little time or respect for the best traditions of government: the patient development of policy formulated with the assistance of a professional public service. So determined are they to present small targets to the electorate that concepts like platforms and mandates have almost dropped out of the vocabulary of politics. Where the notion of a mandate does surface, it’s as a simplistic demand by government that the Senate pass its proposed bills, ignoring the check-and-balance role the second chamber was designed to provide. Too often, governments don’t even have the popular mandate for the legislation they demand gets passed, given the scant details on offer during election campaigns. As South Australian senator Nick Xenophon told us for our book Battleground: Why the Liberal Party Shirtfronted Tony Abbott, the former prime minister had “a reverse mandate” 471 for much of what was contained in his first budget, having explicitly ruled out during the campaign many of the cuts Treasurer Joe Hockey announced on budget night. Malcolm Turnbull’s elevation to the prime ministership brought with it hopes of a raised tone of debate. AAP/Dan Himbrechts The small-target strategy the Coalition adopted in 2013 while in opposition was a symptom of the professionalisation of politics, where the drive for government for the sake of power outweighs the purpose for achieving it. The result has been the opposite of what the professionals must have expected – a period of instability unparalleled since the first decade after Federation. Politicians who understand how to count but who barely contribute a single idea to the public square are damaging voter perceptions of political leadership, increasing the degree of difficulty to break out of this situation and present substantive debates and policy ideas. Malcolm Turnbull’s election to the prime ministership by his colleagues promises to rebalance this situation, but it is early days and such promises have been made before. We wait to see if the rhetoric will be matched by genuine changes. Given that Turnbull’s elevation came as a result of the erosion of confidence in the system and the willingness to remove a leader when unpopularity pervades, even just over halfway into a first term, it is far from certain he won’t fall victim to the same panic and cutthroat assessment. A lack of diversity The permanent campaign is a concept American political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann first wrote about 15 years ago. It involves the professionalisation of politics to a point where the political participants become involved in a permanent election campaign: using the media and the routines of politics to the direct goal of re-election, throughout an entire electoral term. 472 As a direct result of this professionalisation there is a loss of diversity in representatives, which narrows the intellectual outlook of the body politic, and in turn has removed the ideological drive of modern politics. This leaves voters with limited choices. In Australia, the major parties are dominated by careerists, for whom election is the goal rather than the means of achieving goals. Retaining power has become more important than using incumbency to achieve goals. This has many impacts – on leadership theory, public policy and political stability, as we’ve seen recently with the removal of multiple prime ministers by their partyrooms. Where once Liberals would accuse Labor of ideological and professional narrowness because of the large number of former union officials in their ranks, now both sides are heavily laden with ex-staffers. The Liberal Party rarely pre-selects small business owners – partly because of more rigid factional groupings and partly because those small business owners have stepped back from political engagement. The recent pre-selection process for Joe Hockey’s seat of North Sydney saw a controversial move to truncate the selection process, which helped deliver the seat to Trent Zimmerman, a factional player for the moderates with only limited “real-world” experience. Labor’s parliamentary ranks are dominated by ex-union officials such as Bill Shorten. AAP/Andrew Taylor To the extent that we read about diversity in the backgrounds of MPs in their parliamentary biographies, such career markers have been strategically embarked on for the purpose of a future tilt at politics; for appearance rather than life experience. Too many MPs with backgrounds in larger organisations have worked within the media or government affairs divisions, rather than at the heart of the business. On the Labor side, while ex-union officials continue to dominate parliamentary ranks, alongside ex-staffers, they are career union officials rather than those who have moved from the factory floor into official roles and then into parliament. 473 The working-class diversity that once made up for the narrowness of union domination with Labor‘s ranks is no more. Isolated exceptions prove the rule. Dominance of polling The most concerning aspect of the professionalisation of politics is the disconnect it has facilitated between politicians and those who vote for them. Our leaders know too much about politics and not enough about life. Just because you can tear down a first-term prime minister doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Did the Labor functionaries who removed Rudd stop to think about why a first-term prime minister had never been treated that way? Now Abbott has suffered the same fate. For all the faults of the Abbott government – many of which were accentuated by the professionalisation of politics – we can’t be sure that Abbott’s faults in his two years in office wouldn’t have been corrected over time, as was the case with other prime ministers. Like Rudd before him, Abbott wasn’t afforded the opportunity to grow in the job. Bob Hawke had a messy beginning; John Howard even moreso. Had either of these highly regarded former prime ministers been voted out of office by their colleagues so soon after becoming prime minister, their legacies would have been as unimpressive as Abbott’s will certainly be. If you doubt this historical reality, consider Howard’s polling numbers just over three months out from the 1998 election. His Coalition‘s primary vote was at just 34%; Abbott’s government’s primary vote never fell below 35%. Howard’s net satisfaction rating had dipped to minus 31 – territory Abbott traversed only once, and had recovered from by the time he was deposed. John Howard made an art of trailing in the polls until the time that it mattered. AAP/Dean Lewins While Abbott was wrong to blame the proliferation of polls, the media and white-anting as the causes of his demise, they did play a role. The need to stay competitive in the polls is stronger now than it has ever been, and there are more polls than ever before. 474 During his 11 years in power, Howard made an art of trailing in the polls until the eve of elections, before narrowing the gap and – with the notable exception of the 2007 election – overtaking his rivals when it mattered. The erosion of stability caused by professionalisation isn’t only the fault of politicians. The media culture in response to it and the cultural realities of modern society are also contributing factors. Journalism is more poll-driven than in the past, more informed by backgrounding and commentary because of the expense involved in chasing down genuine news. On the supply side of political news, public comments from political leaders are so scripted and predictable that journalists compete to seek out their real thinking. They celebrate the “gaffes”, which American journalist Michael Kinsley defined as an accidental utterance of the truth, produced by politicians because they puncture the images that leaders and their advisers seek to project. Even politicians resent this charade. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop provided an insight into this thinking when government talking points were leaked – she commented that this would save her the trouble of having to parrot them. A throwaway media culture Voters today are part of a consumer throwaway culture, which we argue has harmed the way we see our politicians. If leaders err, just replace them. This attitude is shared by their colleagues. There must be more to the problem than what Abbott called a “febrile media culture”. When New Zealander John Key welcomed Turnbull in October 2015, he was meeting his fifth Australian prime minister. Other parliamentary systems – the UK and Germany – are enjoying periods of relative stability. So too was Canada, until conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was defeated while trying to secure a fourth term in power. These countries are not without their problems. But Australia’s problems seem to be rooted in systemic and cultural issues that we can do something about. 475 Governments know everything about what voters want, but seem unable to satisfy them. While the published polls have impacted on the political contest we see in the media, internal party research has decided what comes first. Where previously such research was used to inform how to sell policy scripts, or occasionally ward off policy moves that are patently out of touch with the electorate, today the research determines policy choices. This shift is supposed to endear the political class to voters, but we see through many of the attempts to reflect our wishes rather than lead. It is a twist on the delegate and trustee representational theories. Not long ago, political scientists wondered whether this “PR state” gave undue advantages to incumbent governments. The overflow of media advisers and access to resources seemed to offer incumbents powerful advantages against their political opponents. Some sort of threshold was passed in the late 1990s, when the number of trained journalists working for governments surpassed the number working for newspapers. We realise now that journalists, even as their numbers declined, were tiring of being managed by their former colleagues turned media advisers and found ways to fight back – revelling in getting behind the spin and highlighting the re-announcements, backflips and backdowns. This leaves readers and viewers more cynical than they were to start with. At the same time, as veteran political journalist Laurie Oakes has pointed out, journalists are remarkably reticent in defending the traditions of their own profession. Governments collect data and restrict access to immigration detention centres with ease. For a profession that loves to talk about itself, this is a remarkable omission. Yet the Gillard government’s failed attempt to regulate newspapers shows the limits of politicians in using their institutional power. This in turn brings us back to the lack of trust, and therefore authority, that we place in our elected representatives. The public needs to take its share of the blame. We’ve all watched the leadership speculation stories climb to the top of the most clicked-on stories of even the quality news sites. Journalists who seek to be well read – at a time when online data reveals all regarding how may readers journalists truly have – play to their readers’ preferences. 476 Canberra gossip (as Abbott was fond of calling it) serves as clickbait. During Abbott’s two years in office, stories with his chief-of-staff’s name in the title invariably sat at the top of the most-read articles on websites. Readers want to feel like they have been taken inside the political contest, and stories that achieve this but nonetheless focus on policy over politics lose reader interest. It is the politicians who need to disarm in the contest with journalists and voters: get out from behind the consultants, spin doctors and minders and tell us what they think. It will be interesting to see how long Turnbull refuses to play the game of ruling measures in or out before they have been properly debated. One of the reasons that parties felt obliged to take the seemingly radical step of removing two first-term prime ministers was that their own campaigns have convinced voters that prime ministers are no longer primus inter pares (first among equals). Instead, we expect this single figure to have solutions to the most minute of problems, and an opinion on everything from tax reform to football results. This prime ministerial government can be successful, as it was under Howard, when co- ordination is smooth, but it also risks going awry when the prime minister cannot replicate that success. The same political actors who encouraged us to respect the power of the prime minister refused to do so when they had the opportunity to increase their own influence. The most effective period of governing since Howard was during the hung parliament (2010– 13), but voters didn’t reward the incumbent party. The capacity of oppositions to paint chaos as the way we see government operations is made easier in the news age we live in, and helped along by social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Abbott in opposition was a successful proponent of this approach, before himself falling victim to it. Journalists are remarkably reticent in defending the traditions of their own profession. AAP/Lukas Coch 477 The way forward? Enough complaining, though. We are not revolutionaries, but if leaders are unwilling to release themselves from the straitjacket that professionalisation has imposed on them then some parts of the system could be improved if the public really lost patience. Other Westminster systems have been much more innovative than Australia in reform and adaptation. Australia is almost unique in lacking a bill of rights; New Zealand and the UK have remade their respective systems in quite different ways. Constituitonal change is notoriously difficult in Australia. None of our suggestions necessarily require constitutional change, although such entrenchment could be useful. We offer three principles that would make the system more democratic and fair, and focus political parties on their underlying purpose of improving the lives of their constituents instead of occupying office. Australian political parties have promoted increasingly complex governance standards for public and private organisations without applying these standards to their own organisations. There is only one passing mention of parties in the Australian Constitution, giving courts few opportunities to limit their activities. Historically, Australian political parties have avoided court action to resolve internal disputes or to disadvantage the other party, to retain their unique status as neither entirely public nor private organisations. They justify some elements of their privileged legal status (such as their exemption from the Privacy Act) because of their public role. Political parties are indeed unique actors, which join ordinary citizens with organisations whose power reaches into the highest decision-making organs of the state. On the other hand, exemption from the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act is justified on the non- government status of parties. The Australian Law Reform Commission has long argued for removal of the parties’ exemption from the Privacy Act on the basis that “public confidence in the political process” requires all actors to be on the same legal footing. To the extent that parties have been regulated, it has tended to be in their own interest – for example, registering party names to prevent competition. Not all regulation is desirable and there are always unintended consequences. Candidate selection varies a lot in Australia, but 478 the system of primaries in the US enforced by state law is by no means a better system. Not that this truth has prevented Labor and the Nationals discussing moves towards just such a system. Political parties are too important to the way we are governed to be excluded from oversight. This is arguably more urgent now that party membership has fallen. Parties with deep roots in civil society could at least claim to be representative of the community. The shells of those organisations that exist today retain legal privileges that accrue mainly to the handful of self- interested actors who control them. In the past, Turnbull has indicated an interest in banning both corporate and union donations. In NSW, the attempts to ban union donations were struck down by the High Court, but other regulations have been upheld. Many politicians resent the arms race that fundraising has become. Ministerial staff must be directly accountable to the parliament. The concept of ministerial responsibility has fallen away in modern politics, and the use of staffers to shield them from accountability is rampant. These unelected staffers have close proximity to politicians, but without the oversight of the public service. Scholars have for some time understood power within the executive branch as more complex than the traditional division between the permanent bureaucracy and the shifting fortunes of the government of the day, or between leaders and factions within the cabinet. Instead, “court politics” is understood as alliances of various actors within government, including party political advisers who try to achieve or block proposals. Tony Abbott’s chief-of-staff Peta Credlin copped criticism for her command-and-control approach. AAP/Lukas Coch If, as is often argued, the chief-of-staff to the prime minister is more powerful than some cabinet ministers, that status should be recognised in methods of public accountability, starting with a few appearances before parliamentary committees. While this has been Labor policy since 2004, it hasn’t been tested. 479 Political fundraising is also something that has very little oversight, and has numerous loopholes for parties to hide donors from the register. The conflation of party political roles and their duty to the state see ministers using their power to raise funds for private organisations – the political parties they represent. Money buys access to these decision-makers. While it might not buy outcomes, the perception that it does – or the potential that it might – should see major reform to party fundraising enacted. Buying time with a minister at dinners or roundtable discussions at state and federal party conferences is akin to the prostitution of our democracy, and the players themselves don’t like it. Ministers are already under intense time-pressure to attend party events, engage with the media, position themselves with colleagues and perhaps even get across policy details. The last thing they want is be rolled out as the bait at expensive fundraisers. But party officials who run election campaigns, and have no accountability in political institutional frameworks, demand that ministers attend such events and have the authority to insist on it. Change is possible The major parties that benefit from the electoral system aren’t likely to change it, but change does happen. New Zealanders were deeply unhappy with their much more centralised system, and they were offered a choice of electoral systems. The complexities of the multi-member electorate, which better balances local representation with proportional representation, didn’t frighten voters away from electoral reform. The principal advantage of Australia’s system is supposed to be stability, but we have seen that stability reduced because of the two-party model it sustains in the lower house. Now that the Senate has seen a widening of the representatives who might secure election, the major parties, in conjunction with the Greens, have come together to support reform that will knock out microparties. 480 But such a change would only trade one problem for another. It risks entrenching the Greens in the Senate alongside the majors, reducing the width of representation. Since the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters recommended changes to Senate voting, some Liberals have become more circumspect as to what they were contemplating supporting. They are concerned that changes establishing the Greens as the third force might make doing business for conservative governments harder than it already is. This surely goes to the heart of the problem: change is suggested to solve a practical problem in the moment, rather than being grounded in a structural and strategic assessment of what might enrich the representative nature of parliament. While the dominance of the two-party system itself restricts input into the policymaking processes of government to select parties, the decision-making processes are even narrower. Partyrooms jealously guard their power to select leaders because it is one of the last powers they retain. Policymaking hasn’t just been restricted to the executive arm of government, it has been narrowly cast within the office of the prime minister. Again, we see the role of unelected political staffers with limited accountability at the heart of modern governments. Where ministers are able to exert influence beyond their role in cabinet, informal groupings such as Rudd’s gang of four widen the rule of government a little beyond the Prime Minister’s Office, but not enough. Voters feel they are ruled and not governed by their politicians. Backbenchers feel similarly about the executive, and the executive is increasingly ruled by one office – that of the prime minister. It is an irony that so much power rests in one place, yet its stability in maintaining long-term continuity has diminished. Another advantage of proportional representation – either introduced into the lower house or once again respected in the Senate – is that it would necessitate consultation and bargaining between powerful actors in the political system. This bargaining is already a feature of the current system, but it is opaque: the Liberal–National coalition itself and the factions within parties make deals without regard for the public interest. 481 One consequence of the hung parliament was a package of reforms to parliament, including independence of the speaker and a Question Time less dominated by the executive. The hung parliament itself was relatively productive, but not popular with the public because some of the policies that arose, such as the carbon tax, were not foreshadowed. Institutionalising this bargaining, though, will change public expectations of elections, and in turn change the political culture away from adversarialism. Senate reform to limit the number of microparty senators remains on the agenda of both major parties. AAP/Alan Porritt It’s on us to create change There are aspects of Australian political culture that we take for granted, such as the theatre of budget night. Why should the contents of the government’s budget, its most important document, be dripped to the media over weeks and months, only for the treasurer to pull a rabbit out of the hat with a flourish. British governments release a budget “green paper” prepared by the Treasury with a number of taxation and expenditure options. This is a much more mature approach to policymaking. One of the reasons for the failure of the two-party system is that society is simply too complex. Recent history is littered with occasions where narrow consultation produced poorly thought-out policy that was reversed after a public or interest group-led revolt. Governments tend to have a static view of consultation. Parliament has set up useful organs for investigating legislation and abuse of power, which are subject to the demands of the major political parties. Another limitation is the contrast between the methods of mass-media control described above and the more egalitarian sprit of the internet. The role of social media in reducing politicians to actors in an ongoing political satire is a more recent phenomenon in this arms race. It has caused a lot of cynicism among older politicians in particular, such as Abbott’s dismissal of Twitter as “electronic graffiti”. 482 Because political life is so tightly managed, few politicians are prepared to take the risks that genuine engagement with social media entails: spontaneity, openness and dialogue. While we should be wary of which socioeconomic groups are dominating these new forms of interaction, that is no reason to avoid exploring ways for government bodies – not just parties and the parliament – to seek public input into their activities. For the most part, though, we get social media as public relations rather than engagement. Some of these measures can be institutionalised, but only citizens can change the political culture. We should demand a higher quality standard of debate from media, interest groups, leaders and parties alike. Despite more ways to directly engage with politicians, those who represent us have never been more out of touch. Despite more opportunities for voters to access their politicians – if only fleetingly via social media – few want to, and fewer still pay attention to the political contest. When we do pay attention, we are voyeurs into the theatre of politics, rather than the policy debates that matter. The professionalisation of the political system has counterintuitively led to a less stable environment. Prime ministers are all-powerful when it comes to setting the policy agenda and running government, but they are weak when colleagues lose confidence in their capacity to win elections. The notion of backlash has become a dominant theme in Australian politics: partyrooms exerting what limited power they do have over prime ministers; a backlash in the electorate; and among journalists against the spin of politics and the lack of consultation that we see. Institutions designed to provide checks, such as the Senate, are now seen as roadblocks by governments that want to rule rather than negotiate. Only when systems change and cultural adjustments occur will the political class return to governing rather than ruling. You can read a longer version of this article and others from the Griffith Review’s latest edition here. 483 The lucky country or a nation of gullible gits?  February 3, 2016  Written by: Kaye Lee  6 Replies Why did Labor lose the last election? For those not au fait with Australian politics, Labor’s loss at the 2013 election seemed unfathomable. They had steered us through the global financial crisis relatively unscathed. Economic parameters were creditable. Standard of living was comparatively high. We were world leaders on action on climate change. World class NBN was underway. There were agreements with the states about hospital and education funding. The NDIS was established with bipartisan support. We had stood up to the tobacco companies regarding plain packaging laws. The Apology had been made and the long road to reconciliation embarked upon. Marine parks had been extended and water trigger protection enacted. So what went wrong? Party disunity Labor deposed an elected Prime Minister – twice. The seething resentment caused by these moves undermined the party as personal egos and division took over. Press leaks and constant speculation made the leadership turmoil the story, drowning out the message of policy success and vision for the future. Juliar 484 One brief edited film clip of Julia Gillard saying “there will be no carbon tax” was enough for the Murdoch press, abetted by radio shock jocks, to brand her a liar. The fact that a fixed price emissions trading scheme was demanded by the independents as a condition of their support to form government in a hung parliament, and that Tony Abbott had been prepared to do likewise and more to win, seemed to make no difference to a public whipped up by Jones and Bolt. Great big new tax on everything The framing of the debate about carbon pricing was the ultimate misinformation campaign. Whyalla will be wiped off the map. $100 lamb roasts. Investment will dry up and jobs will be lost. Even though none of this came true, and the compensation package saw most low income earners and welfare recipients better off, the rapid rise in electricity prices that happened well before the carbon tax was enacted was erroneously attributed to its introduction. The fossil fuel industry went into overdrive with propaganda denying anthropogenic global warming. The motivation and credibility of scientists was questioned as a paid for array of geologists and engineers employed by the mining companies cast doubt. Debt and deficit disaster Despite having a triple A credit rating and one of the lowest debts globally, the Opposition was able to convince an ill-informed public that any debt at all was bad and that we must have a surplus because governments must “live within their means.” As a sovereign currency issuing country, this is not true. Small government debt equates to increased private debt which always skyrockets under a Coalition government. When private investment dries up, as is happening now, governments should engage in deficit spending to stimulate the economy rather than austerity measures which exacerbate the problem. The NBN “I’m no tech head” Abbott, assisted by “I’m not challenging” Turnbull, convinced the Australian public that the broadband speeds being offered by Labor’s NBN were completely unnecessary for households and that FttP was an expensive waste of time. They also suggested that early teething problems were due to Labor’s inability to deliver big projects and that they could get the job done much quicker and cheaper. 485 Corruption Whether it was 20 year old legal work for a friend, misuse of union funds in a previous role, or misuse of cab charges, the intimation was that the government was full of fraudulent cheats. Dirt files were prepared and paid for. Criminal investigations and Royal Commissions were called for. Trial by media followed with tipped off tv camera crews recording every sordid moment. Soon we will be going to the polls again to decide whether to return a Coalition government who deposed another sitting Prime Minister, who has broken so many promises I have lost count, who wants to introduce a great big new tax, not just on electricity, but on everything, who has overseen record deficits and increased the debt by about $100 billion, whose already inadequate NBN is well behind schedule and suffering cost blowouts, and who has three ministers currently under police investigation, another resigned for sexual harassment, another who was investigated by ICAC, and a string of scandals regarding misuse of entitlements. So why should they win the next election? They stopped the boats, but did little to help refugees and a great deal to harm them. As they wipe their hands of the problem, they dump it on some of the poorest countries in the world. They got rid of the carbon tax, and in so doing cost us tens of billions in revenue while handing over billions to polluters and causing emissions to increase. By abandoning bipartisan support for the RET, they effectively destroyed the renewable energy industry. They got rid of the mining tax, and all the payments that went with it, and then saw mining investment and jobs plummet. They signed three free trade agreements which caused revenue to be written down by billions and the possibility of foreign workers taking Australian jobs. They were also the final death sentence for the domestic car industry. They are poised to sign the TPP which will allow foreign multinationals to sue us if legislation hurts their profits and poses a threat to our PBS and internet access. 486 They tell us that they are on a credible path to surplus but that is unlikely to happen anywhere in the foreseeable future. They have introduced wide-ranging anti-terror and national security laws that are supposed to be keeping us safe but their precipitous action in the Middle East and their alienation of the Australian Muslim community is far more likely to make us a target. They now spy on all citizens and have the ability to punish people who speak out against their policies. They are promising tax cuts when every economist agrees that we have a revenue problem so they will have to be paid for by cutting services and increasing the cost of living through an increased GST. They have a popular leader who used to support action on climate change, marriage equality, a Republic, renewable energy, innovative technology – but no more. All principles have been traded for the prize of personal ambition realised. If the Coalition is returned at the next election, Australia could rightly be described as, rather than the lucky country, a nation of gullible gits. ABBOTT ABOUT WOMEN (SEE COLLECTION FOR QUOTATION) The War on Feminism and the Normalisation of Misogyny in Australia  February 3, 2016  Written by: The AIM Network  2 Replies By Jennifer Ellem Since I was a young girl I believed I lived in a world where my gender made no difference whatsoever. I was raised to see myself as a person whose worth was measured by my deeds, my achievements and my failures. 487 As I grew older I continued to see the world through this lens. As a someone who attended a girls only private school those teachings were re-enforced. The subject of whether or not I was in anyway less capable or deserving than my male counterparts was so unheard of that it didn’t even bear mentioning. While studying history I learnt about the long fight for women’s rights and their battle to be seen as equal in our society but to me that was all it was History. Even at university where I was introduced to a much deeper appreciation of the legacy that those who have come before us let behind I still saw it as something academic. I was introduced to the idea of feminism but STILL in my mind I thought of it as a word that encompassed what had been achieved NOT something we are still fighting for. It was not until I entered the workforce that it became clear to me that there was still a subtle form of discrimination still in play. While it may not have been overt it was nevertheless still present. I will never forget interviewing for positions once I was married and had a child and the very clear double standard of questions I faced. There was no disputing my qualifications or aptitude but I was often asked how I was going to balance being a mother and working at the same time. I found myself having to explain the arrangements I’d made for the care of my son and reassure those interviewing me that it would not affect my work. My husband on the other hand was never faced with those questions and in fact it was deemed a positive thing as being a ‘family man’ he would be committed to providing for us and would therefor make a diligent employee. But still this seemed like something small and that over time this subtle discrimination would disappear also. That has NOT happened, if anything it has become worse. Forget subtle discrimination there are those out there who do not even pretend to pay lip service to the idea equality in all areas of life. Something has happened that has led men [and I will point out here that it is only some men not all] to believe that discriminatory behavior and even violent acts are not something they need to apologise for or even attempt to contain. 488 This as a world wide phenomena but I have seen the rise of hate groups here in Australia that gain momentum at an alarming rate with little intervention from our government, with little comprehension by men and even worse the belittling of women by their own gender. For many women Feminism is considered to be an extremist idea that sets male against female when in fact it is meant to bring equality to both. This rise in Domestic Violence [DV] here in Australia over the past decade is staggering especially when you consider the fact that the most common cause of death or injury for women under the age of 45 is DV. Last year alone 79 women were killed by their partners and so far this year 4 women have been killed for the same reason. Yet funding for this atrocity is set at $25 million a year up until 2017 where it will be reassessed with the view to reduction as for some strange reason they believe they will be able to reduce domestic violence by providing less support. In New South Wales alone, refuges for women and children are being shut down as the state government cuts funding in an efficiency overhaul intended to replace more expensive specialist services such as women-only shelters with generic services that experts say are less likely to be used by victims of domestic violence. As with pretty much everything else, shelter services in regional communities and indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable. Women and children in regional and rural communities, indigenous women and children and disabled people are much more exposed to the risk of domestic violence and still nothing is done. [care of Crikey] Rose Batty, last years Australian of the Year, has be lambasted by men’s groups claiming her work in the field of DV has discriminated against men and some have even gone as far to say that they feel sorry for her husband. Now remember this is the man she left because of DV who then beat his son to death with a cricket bat in the middle of a park while she and others watched but sadly could not reach the boy in time. This is the level of discrimination and antagonism towards women that we are faced with today. I wish to make it perfectly clear here that I am not denigrating the trauma that some men face nor do I wish to paint all men as ‘evil’ but too many men insist that we are making too big a deal out of DV and making other men feel guilty or ignored. 489 However this culturally embedded misogyny has grown and the term Feminist has become an insult used against women who speak out and sadly it is both men and women who take that stance. Our previous Prime Minister, who also named himself as Minster for Women was an outspoken and unrepentant misogynist who helped strip funding from much needed services. We sadly have few female MP’s and even fewer at a federal level and instead of being a voice for women some, like Julie Bishop, run down Feminism despite the fact that they would never have been there, let alone allowed to vote, if not for those feminists who came before them. We see casual misogyny in the highest levels of government where Jamie Briggs, a cabinet minister was set down for sexist behavior but no action other than that taken. We have support for him from Peter Dutton in the form of texts lambasting female journalist for calling him on his behavior, describing her a ‘Mad Fuc*&^g Witch’, and just to top it off we now have our PM saying that he would see Briggs back on the front bench. It is this attitude which has encouraged the worst of sexist groups to act as they believe they will receive little government intervention for their statements. The most recent examples of this attack on women rights in Australia comes in the form of a group who call themselves The Return of Kings who are staging meetings here in Australia and in 48 other countries around the world on February 6th. The ideas and beliefs of ROK are based on neomasculinity. Here are a few of its principal tenets: 1. Men and women are genetically different, both physically and mentally. Sex roles evolved in all mammals. Humans are not exempt. 2. Men will opt out of monogamy and reproduction if there are no incentives to engage in them. 3. Past traditions and rituals that evolved alongside humanity served a net benefit to the family unit. 490 4. Testosterone is the biological cause for masculinity. Environmental changes that reduce the hormone’s concentration in men will cause them to be weaker and more feminine. 5. A woman’s value significantly depends on her fertility and beauty. A man’s value significantly depends on his resources, intellect, and character. 6. Elimination of traditional sex roles and the promotion of unlimited mating choice in women unleashes their promiscuity and other negative behaviors that block family formation. 7. Socialism, feminism, cultural Marxism, and social justice warriorism aim to destroy the family unit, decrease the fertility rate, and impoverish the state through large welfare entitlements. Along with the firm belief that rape should be legal if it is on private property and that women are programmed to follow the orders of men show that these ideas represent just about everything women have stood and fought against this past century. Also one of the premises of their group thought is that women are programmed to follow the orders of men and not to do so will end in the break down of society in general. Now they are not the first, nor will they be the last group who believe such things but what is extremely worrying is the lack of response on behalf of our Minister for Immigration AND the support they have received from men here in Australia and around the world. When asked about Daryush ‘Roosh’ Valizadeh’s application to come to Australia to host these meetings his Dutton’s response to the ABC was: A man who believes rape should be legalised has not applied for a visa, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says, despite ‘Roosh V’ confirming plans to visit Canberra this weekend. But Mr Dutton has not ruled out stopping his entry into the country, stating he would continue to monitor the case. [ABC] This is somewhat similar to his attitude earlier this year when deported US pick-up artist Julien Blanc’s mates planned an Australia tour. The massive social media backlash, accompanied by a petition signed by thousands of men and women here in Australia forced the Minister to deny their visa applications BUT prior to that he had been very quiet on the 491 matter. It appears he will do the same here, see which way the wind blows and then take action as well as credit for that action [as he did earlier]. This also holds true for Julien Blanc himself who was deported from Australia when he came here to provide his own special seminars on how to pick up women using degradation and abuse. The group behind these seminars is Real Social Dynamics and consider choking women into submission as a legitimate way of achieving consent. If there was any doubt about the damaging nature of his methods, Blanc uploaded a domestic violence chart to Instagram with the caption “May as well be a checklist … #HowToMakeHerStay”. So I have to ask myself, has feminism failed or has a very clever PR campaign been run over a number of years to to wage war on the word and all those who associate with it. If that is the case then it’s been very successful as there is an entire generation out there who wish to distance themselves from that word and the side affect of that is that the subtle discrimination that was slowly losing ground has come back with a vengeance in this past few decades and is rapidly normalising misogyny into our culture yet again. This article was first published on jenniferann1970.wordpress.com. Will the new Anzac centenary minister be too busy to bother? 1 Comment ↓ David Stephens ‘Will the new Anzac centenary minister be too busy to bother? Honest History, 1 December 2015 [Note: earlier, edited versions of this article appear in the Public Servant Informant supplement of the Canberra Times for 1 December 2015, pages 8-9, under the title ‘Beginning of the end of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs?’ and online as ‘The end of veterans’ affairs: will Anzac Centenary Minister Stuart Robert be too busy to bother?’ The 492 table in the hard copy Canberra Times version has an error; the version below is correct and is as sent to the paper.] Update 4 December 2015: the Minister has responded on Twitter. ___________________________________ When the author worked in the machinery of government area of the old Commonwealth Public Service Board one of the unwritten rules was that no combination of functions or tasks was impossible, provided the minister concerned was up to the job. Some ministers were expected to – and did – wilt under a light load of responsibilities while others thrived regardless of what their prime minister threw at them. These hoary issues arise again in the wake of the recent ministerial reshuffle: while Senator Michael Ronaldson, the previous Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, also had the job of Special Minister of State – mostly a doddle – the new holder of the Veterans’ Affairs and Anzac jobs, Stuart Robert MP, is also to be Minister for Human Services, which makes his job altogether different. Let’s look at this historically … Then Minister Ronaldson, August 2015, with students of Haddon Primary School who ‘skipped, walked or ran 14,765kms … – the distance from Melbourne to Gallipoli – as part of their program to educate students about the Centenary of Sacrifice’. They won an award. (Facebook/Senator Ronaldson) Veterans’ Affairs ministers since 1976 – and their other jobs* Before Stuart Robert became Minister for Veterans’ Affairs on 21 September, there had been fifteen holders of that job since July 1976. (Before that, there had been Ministers for Repatriation since 1917, except during the Bruce-Page administration 1923-29.) The first five of those ministers, from 1976 to 1987, held no other jobs while they were Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (apart from one minister, Evan Adermann, who simultaneously held another job for two months in 1978). The sixth minister, Ben Humphreys MP (ALP) held only the Veterans’ Affairs job from July 1987 to May 1992 before he took on an additional job (Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Northern Australia) for the final ten months of his tenure in Veterans’ Affairs, which ended in March 1993. 493 So, for almost the entire 16 years from July 1976 to May 1992, Ministers for Veterans’ Affairs were able to focus solely on the needs of veterans. Minister Humphreys’ additional job marked a change. Humphreys’ successor as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator John Faulkner, was also Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, holding both jobs from March 1993 to March 1994. Senator Faulkner was replaced by Con Sciacca MP, who held the Veterans’ Affairs job for two years until the defeat of the Keating Government. He, too, had an additional job, though only for the final five months of his tenure, as Minister Assisting the Treasurer for Superannuation. Ministers for Veterans’ Affairs in the 1990s were being expected to do more. This can be linked to the decline in the number of veterans – the portfolio’s main clients – as the men and women of the world wars aged and died. Around this time the Department of Veterans’ Affairs began to move into the commemoration and education fields. It was looking for a role, though it was rather shy about putting this on official paper. (The Appendix to this note reprints a comment we made earlier.) These changed expectations have meant that all but one of the seven Veterans’ Affairs Ministers from March 1996 to September 2015 have at some time simultaneously served in other roles. The table below shows that, over that period of 19 years and 6 months, Ministers for Veterans’ Affairs have also held other jobs for 11 years and 6 months. (Here, we bundle the role of Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac since 2011 with that of Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.) Minister (party) In office Other ministry held Minister Assisting the Minis Bruce Scott (NAT) March 1996-November 2001 Defence, October 1998-No 2001 Minister Assisting the Minis Danna Vale (LIB) November 2001-October 2004 Defence, November 2001-Se 2003 Minister Assisting the Minis De-Anne Kelly (NAT) October 2004-January 2006 Defence, November 2004- 2006 494 Bruce Billson (LIB) January 2006-December 2007 Nil Minister for Defence Scien Alan Griffin (ALP) December 2007-September 2010 Personnel, April 2010-Se 2010 Minister for Defence Scien Personnel, September 2010-Se Warren Snowdon (ALP) September 2010-September 2013 2013; Minister Assisting the Minister for the Centenary of March 2011-September 2013 Minister Assisting the Prime M for the Centenary of Senator Michael Ronaldson (LIB) September 2013-September 2015 September 2013-September Special Minister of State, Se 2013-September 2015 Blinded veterans, c. 1967 (NAA 8298295, A7342) A turning point this time? So, what has changed for Stuart Robert MP, the new Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, and for the people who have expectations of the Minister in those roles? Is his additional responsibility for Human Services merely a continuation of a common pattern of the last two decades? No, it isn’t. Crucially, Mr Robert in his ‘other job’, Human Services, will be responsible for a complete department, not just for a piece of a department or portfolio, as was the case with five of his predecessors, Mr Scott, Ms Vale, Ms Kelly, Mr Griffin and Mr Snowdon, each of whom was responsible for parts of the Department of Defence. In each of these cases, the normal practice would have been for the senior portfolio minister, the Minister for Defence, to specify, usually by letter, which parts of the portfolio the junior minister would handle. It would have been possible to temper the load to the junior minister’s capacity and even to adjust it from time to time as workloads changed. This is not the case with Mr Robert: the Human Services job is his and his alone. 495 As for Mr Robert’s most recent predecessor, Senator Ronaldson, his other job, Special Minister of State, burgeoned for a while with the fallout from the bungled Western Australian Senate election but then slipped back to its more usual fairly quiet state, waiting for the next poll. The more recent brouhaha over the then Speaker’s travel extravagances may have entailed work for public servants in the Department of Finance but most of the political heavy lifting fell to the then prime minister, rather than the minister. (The Special Minister of State has responsibility for the administration of Parliamentary entitlements, including travel allowances, and for the employment of ministerial staff – in both areas the real work is done by Finance – and for the oversight of the Australian Electoral Commission, which has about 800 permanent staff, reporting to a Commissioner.) Minister Ronaldson accordingly had plenty of time to travel to France and Turkey to oversee Anzac centenary arrangements, to visit towns and suburbs to hand out commemorative grants and to make bloodthirsty speeches to RSL conferences about the martial responsibility of children. What does all this mean for the centenary of Anzac? So Mr Robert has Human Services. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say Human Services has him. The Department of Human Services includes the massive bureaucracies of Centrelink and Medicare plus smaller programs in aged care, child support, hearing services, and other areas. It currently disburses around $165 billion annually in payments. It claims it touches the lives of almost every Australian – so it has about 25 million clients. It has around 34 000 staff in 400 service centres across the country, under the leadership of a secretary and six deputy secretaries. Its organisation chart, showing senior staff, includes over 150 names and is printed in more than 20 colours in an attempt to improve comprehension. By contrast with the Human Services behemoth, Veterans’ Affairs is a boutique operation. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has roughly 2000 staff delivering around $12 billion in benefits annually to around 320 000 clients. While DVA staff are less likely to be an industrial relations problem than those in Human Services – staff at Centrelink and Medicare had been on strike while this post was being drafted – they are more likely to have to deal with well-organised and vocal pressure groups complaining about service quality than are their counterparts in the larger department. Expenditure on the centenary of Anzac is less than one per cent of DVA’s $12 billion budget, though the then minister took some time to nail down the correct figure. While governments 496 of both colours have pursued commemoration initiatives and expenditure on the basis that the public expects this activity – ‘It’s what the bogans want’, in the words of a senior official – it would be interesting to see how a representative sample of Australians would prioritise ‘military commemoration’ against, say, ‘services to veterans’ and ‘efficient medical benefits and employment services’. Commemoration offers photo opportunities for politicians but one suspects public support for it may be ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’ – rather like Christmas, another sentimental and nostalgic cultural marker. These are the sorts of considerations that a busy minister, as Stuart Robert is likely to be, will have to weigh up as he allocates his time – and then re-allocates it as he responds to matters requiring his hands-on attention. Such matters are more likely to arise in Human Services, because of the size and spread of the task there, than on the non-commemoration side of Veterans’ Affairs and more likely to arise on the non-commemoration side of Veterans’ Affairs than on the commemoration side, including the Anzac centenary. Involvement in Anzac centenary activities may leave a warm glow among the administering public servants and members of the public but may have to become an optional extra for a busy minister. (Mr Robert made a quick visit to Europe around Remembrance Day.) Bang Tail Muster Festival Ball, RSL Club, Alice Springs 1959 (NAA 11751809, A1200) Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio? Giving Mr Robert the Human Services job with its potentially heavy workload may be an indication of the attitude of the new prime minister to the relative importance of the Veterans’ Affairs job, including the commemorative aspects of it which have justified that minister having the additional ‘centenary of Anzac’ handle since 2011. The prime minister may, for example, think that, after the peak of commemorative activity during 2015, the intensity will necessarily diminish, requiring minimal ministerial attention. Giving the Veterans’ Affairs minister another, potentially much larger role, may even foreshadow that Veterans’ Affairs has a limited future as a stand-alone operation. It is more than five decades since the then Minister for Repatriation Reg Swartz agreed that calling him ‘the Minister for the RSL’ was ‘a reasonable description’. But the RSL is a far less powerful organisation today than it was in 1963; rather than the RSL link, the staying power of Veterans’ Affairs officers is surely the main factor keeping DVA going today as a separate 497 entity. (New Minister Robert has already blurred departmental boundaries by proposing ‘shared services’ between Human Services and DVA for matters including accounts payable and grants processing.) There are, on the other hand – and have been for many years – bureaucrats in the Departments of Health, Human Services and Social Services who would willingly take over pieces of DVA. There are also bureaucrats in the Department of Education who might like to take on DVA’s successful education funding model and extend it to other areas. Commonwealth funding of education in military history has long been an anomaly when compared with its funding of other strands of history education. That would leave the commemoration functions of the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio to be redistributed. Defence does some commemoration work already and could do more. It could also take on the Office of Australian War Graves, since it has a role in creating the need for them. Under the same logic, the Australian War Memorial (staff around 300), in some respects the jewel in the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio crown, could go to Defence also. Alternatively, the Memorial could return to an arts portfolio, where it was thirty years ago. The portfolio location of the War Memorial ultimately depends on whether the government of the day sees it as part of the defence establishment (current and former) or as a cultural institution. Minister Ronaldson often reminded those who were listening to him that we are commemorating not only the Anzac centenary but also a century of service by our defence forces. This justified events commemorating the end of the war in the Pacific, the Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam, the Battle of Kapyong in Korea, and so on. Great War commemoration was about commemorating not only the Gallipoli landing but also Lone Pine (poorly attended, as it turned out), Fromelles, Pozieres and other battles, leading up to the opening of the extravagant Monash interpretive centre in 2018. The then minister clearly envisaged an active future for himself, with lots of travel, and plenty for his department to do. Whether the workload persists and whether the names on the letterhead remain the same is, as always, a matter for governments. They may feel decisions should be made rather than let the status quo continue. 498 Conclusion It is possible that Stuart Robert MP is superhuman. He is an ex-serviceman and he is nearly two decades younger than his predecessor. While Human Services always carries the potential to require close ministerial involvement, particularly if its massive workforce becomes stroppy or if rorts are alleged, in some respects it is just a massive computer spitting out cheques. Run sensitively, with occasional crises successfully overcome, it has far more potential than Veterans’ Affairs to allow its minister to build his or her reputation, as Mr Robert’s predecessor, Senator Marise Payne found. The prime minister, announcing Senator Payne’s promotion to Defence, noted ‘she has spent two years in the Human Services portfolio and has done an outstanding job in modernising government service delivery’. In Veterans’ Affairs proper, too, there are potential hot spots and insistent pressure groups which will require ministerial attention but which will bring kudos if dealt with competently. DVA is not just a big computer and it has had its fraught moments. Damping down these eruptions while keeping a close eye on Human Services may mean that ministerial trips in the Anzac centenary role to the green fields of France or the stony plains of Palestine to commemorate various centenaries – the forthcoming events that Minister Ronaldson was wont to rattle off in his speeches – may become less common and speeches to RSL conferences more perfunctory. Such changes would help reduce Anzac to a more proportionate place in our national psyche. Minister Robert could turn necessity to considerable advantage for all of us. It may even be that ‘commemoration fatigue’ in the community makes it easier for him to wind down the Anzac wick. Minister Robert: last of his line? (Parliament of Australia) * All information about ministers, their posts and terms in office comes from the Parliament of Australia website. Appendix: The small print on Veterans’ Affairs This originally appeared in Honest History e-newsletter no. 6, October 2013. Administrative history throws up interesting stories. Here’s one. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been involved in commemorations since 1990, implementing such notable enterprises as Australia Remembers in 1995, Saluting their 499 Service after that, and now the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program. The DVA commemorative program, like Topsy, ‘just growed’. Its growth was not accompanied, however, by official recognition in the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO), the order signed by the Governor-General-in-Council which sets out ‘the matters dealt with by a Department of State’. AAO after AAO, under Hawke, Keating and Howard, appeared without recognising DVA’s growing commemorative task. It was not until 14 September 2010, that ‘Her Excellency Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council’ signed an AAO that included the word ‘Commemorations’ under the matters dealt with by DVA. Perhaps this change was to mark the twentieth anniversary of the commencement of DVA’s work in this field; or perhaps someone had noticed the lack for the first time. Machinery of government experts will tell you (correctly) that AAOs do not always fully reflect what departments are up to, that the matters column is only indicative, that other material like program statements has to be read as well, that there is a need for brevity and that, in the case of commemorations, other departments such as Defence do a bit of this sort of thing as well. All that having been said, twenty years does seem rather a long time to take to fix up this piece of DVA’s paperwork and one wonders why it was done when it was done, noting that the tidy-up happened in September 2010 and the Reynolds-Lake book, What’s Wrong with Anzac? came out in about April 2010 (the review here is dated 7 April) and was critical of DVA’s activities in the commemorative and education areas. There is still the question of whether the word ‘Commemorations’ adequately covers DVA’s education program. The Islamophobia stirred up by Abbott and Bolt is a bigger threat to us than terrorism Julian Burnside We’re being asked to give up long-held principles of justice, fairness and liberty, not to mention social cohesion. Is there any threat big enough to warrant that? 500 ‘Abbott’s recent comments about the threat of terrorism were plainly directed at the risk of Muslim terrorism.’ Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA Contact author @JulianBurnside Thursday 26 February 2015 08.37 AEDT Last modified on Thursday 26 February 2015 12.16 AEDT I have been criticised by several people I respect (and a few I do not respect) for a tweet last week in which I said, “Sorry to see Andrew Bolt stirring up Islamophobia today on his blog. People like Bolt and Abbott are the real threat to our way of life.” This has been taken by some people as me expressing support for jihadists. It was not. I detest Islamic extremism. Let me make it really plain: I detest extremism of any persuasion. One reason I think we should be less hysterical about boat people is that most of them are fleeing the same extremists we dread. Perhaps it is a limitation of Twitter as a platform for non-trivial ideas, but my point was about people who stir up Islamophobia, and the risk they present to our way of life. I would make exactly the same point about people who stir up hatred of any other group. Right now, Islamophobia is the new antisemitism, and it is dangerous. Tony Abbott referred to Muslims a number of times in his speech on Monday, and he referred to the Lindt café siege in Sydney. It is important to bear in mind that the Lindt café siege was not a Muslim terrorist event: it was not any sort of terrorist event. It was the terrible act of a madman. The fact that he was a Muslim is utterly irrelevant. The fact that it is used, even indirectly, to stir up fear of Muslims is utterly disgraceful. Of course, Muslims are an easy target: Islamic State (Isis) is doing a pretty bad PR job for Islam. But most Muslims do not support terrorism, either here or overseas. A small group of 501 zealots support Isis and want to join its fight. If there are 50 jihadists in Australia who would fight with Isis (unlikely), that represents about two Australians in a million who are sharply at odds with us. Is two in a million really a big enough threat to encourage us to abandon long- held principles of justice, fairness and liberty? Advertisement Abbott has suggested that we should not give the benefit of the doubt when making decisions about bail. It is an interesting point. Bail exists to give effect to the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty. A person charged with any offence (other than the most serious) is presumed to be entitled to bail, so they do not have to stay in jail until their trial. Those charged with, for example, murder, are presumed not entitled to bail. The presumption for or against bail can be displaced by evidence. The possibility of bail is important, especially when the trial may be six or 12 months away. I wonder how many Australians would approve the idea of jailing a person pending trial “just in case” they might commit an offence. Especially as a person charged is presumed innocent, and may be found not guilty. It is an essential principle of our system that a person should not be punished unless they have been convicted of an offence. The legal system has plenty of examples of people who are charged and then acquitted at trial. Bail is available so that a person who might ultimately be acquitted is not punished in the meantime. Equally, there are examples of people who are charged, acquitted and then go and commit an offence. It would contradict centuries of legal thinking and social attitudes to say that the person should have been held in jail “just in case”. Punishment in advance of an offence, or in anticipation of the possibility of an offence, is utterly inconsistent with long-accepted social norms. Similarly, privacy is a widely accepted principle. The possibility that the movements and conversations of all citizens could be tracked by government agencies cannot be reconciled with accepted social values. Abbott’s recent comments about the threat of terrorism were plainly directed at the risk of Muslim terrorism. Andrew Bolt’s writing frequently plays up the risk of Muslim terrorism. Both Abbott and Bolt have voices which are widely heard and uncritically accepted. They are 502 both significant elements of an increasing anti-Muslim sentiment in the community. If Abbott has his way, that sentiment is going to be harnessed by the government to introduce laws which will cut down basic civil liberties, in particular by restricting bail and enlarging Asio’s powers to spy on the public at large by use of electronic data. Before we are frightened into accepting the sort of legislation Abbott foreshadowed, it is worth recalling the sober warning of Benjamin Franklin, who said: Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. In December 2004, the House of Lords decided a case about English legislation which provided for detention of people thought to present a terrorist risk if they could not be deported. In an 8:1 decision, the House of Lords determined that the laws did not comply with the UK Human Rights Act. Lord Hoffmann said: … the real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its tradition laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. ANALYSIS 24 Feb 2015 Australia, Where Standing Up To Racism Ensures You'll Endure An Eternity Of Racism By Max Chalmers Meet the ‘death cults’ and ‘hate speech’ Tony Abbott should be condemning, but won’t. Max Chalmers explains. It’s the kind imagery and language we’re told to expect from Islamic State. 503 “Leave now before we behead your mother and bury you all with pigs,” one person wrote. “Your [sic] next whore,” posted another, with an image of a decapitated pig attached. These were two of the messages recently tweeted at human rights activist Mariam Veiszadeh, a 30-year-old Australian of Afghani heritage who has endured a barrage of abuse since being singled out by racist group The Australian Defence League earlier in the year. “We’re coming to deport you tonight pig fucker,” another tweet said. “Leave our country now or we bury you with the pigs.” This is the treatment you can expect to endure in Australia if you have the audacity to be a Muslim woman with an online presence who speaks out against racism. Veiszadeh is a well-known community advocate, a lawyer by training who serves as an ambassador to refugee group Welcome To Australia and runs the Islamophobia Register Australia, which records assaults and abuse of Muslims. In 2014, Veiszadeh started the viral Women in Solidarity With Hijabis (WISH) campaign, which aimed to draw attention to the physical and verbal harassment many Australian Muslim women suffer. In her efforts to expose and fight racism, she has made herself a kind of bigot’s focal point. As her prominence has grown, and her social media campaigns have taken off, the targeting of Veiszadeh has intensified. In a recent incident that has resulted in legal proceedings, a young woman allegedly accessed Veiszadeh’s personal facbeook page and left a series of racist comments. Veiszadeh’s crime had been publicly objecting to a Queensland Woolworths store selling singlets decorated with the Australian flag and the slogan “If you don’t love it, leave”. Any Australian could immediately identify the racial undertones of that catchcry, but Veiszadeh was nonetheless hammered for expressing her outrage. 504 The attacks on her prove that those who claim to object to the extreme iterations of Islam – including the treatment of women – in fact find nothing more infuriating than a successful, well educated Muslim woman, who immediately began contributing after being accepted as a refugee (Veiszadeh’s family fled Kabul in 1988, eventually settling in Australia in 1991). While the tone of the threats against her have been harrowing, Veiszadeh has also found significant backing, with Australians of varying background expressing their disgust at her treatment. That support stepped up on Monday, as Veiszadeh encouraged her twitter follower to report three accounts sending her threats. And they did. Lot’s of them. But not before #IStandWithMariam got trending, drawing a response from at least two Federal MPs. On the same day that the Liberal member for Reid tweeted his support for a Muslim anti- bigot, Prime Minister Tony Abbott alarmed Muslim groups (again) by singling their communities out (again), sacrificing their public safety and standing in the eyes of other Australians in an attempt to appease the Gods of Good Polling. 505 The Prime Minister may not be a man greatly moved by the world of ‘electronic graffiti’, but Veiszadeh appeared genuinely thankful for the support. You wouldn’t be hard pressed to find ironies in the PM’s latest act of dog-whistling (or, as Junkee called it ‘dog-airhorning’) but one is particularly striking when thinking about Veiszadeh in particular. The government’s turn against Muslims seeks to build legitimacy on the assumption that they are a hostile outsider group in Australia, prone to ignoring domestic law and custom, and the civil rights of fellow citizens. But the end goal of these insinuations has been to allow the passage of legislation that eats away at civil rights, due legal process, and privacy. Even if you’re a good little bigot living in the nation’s whitest suburb, the government could still soon be sifting through years of your phone and internet data, sans warrant. Veiszadeh is trying to yell over the dog-whistling, but as a lawyer she’s also a symbol of the kinds of processes, procedures, and checks on executive power that the Abbott government has consistently pushed against. It’s Veiszadeh who acts within and respects Australian law, not the supposed patriots who go after her, or the government that subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) gives a nod to their racism. 19 Feb 2015 Freedom In Abbott's Australia: Did Someone Say Racism? By Carl Rhodes 506 It seems freedom of speech is a pretty subjective thing in Team Australia, suggests Professor Carl Rhodes. There has a lot been said in 2015 about freedom of speech. In the wake of the Hedbo massacre in Paris pundits and politicians have been hailing it as a central value of democracy. Never one to pass up on the opportunity to breathe life into his faltering ratings in the opinion polls, Tony Abbott stepped up with vigour. Condemned were the ‘Islamists’ for their hatred of democratic freedom. Even more recently, after bullets were showered over a Copenhagen café hosting satirical cartoonist Lars Vilks, Abbott was on the front foot proclaiming that “the Copenhagen attack is an affront to one of our most fundamental values - freedom of speech”. Abbot is clearly making a distinction between who he sees as the ‘us’ and the ‘them’. When he speaks of ‘our’ values it is quite clear who is included and excluded by this possessive pronoun. When Stephen Hicks shot and killed three Muslim students in the United States earlier this month, Abbott was not rushing to the press gallery to condemn terrorism. He was silent. The freedom Abbott speaks of appears only to be one that is to be directed against terrorists who he can associate with Islam. Terrorism in Africa and Pakistan is off Abbott’s radar. So is the Islamic condemnation of what he refers to with rhetorical flourish as the ‘Islamic State death cult’. 507 Did someone say racism? Abbott stands up proud and righteous when condemning Islamic terrorists, but there is no comment when it comes to white terrorists. It seems that the freedom of speech that Abbott himself exercises is most selective. It is reserved for defending Western victims against non-western terrorists. The freedom of speech that is so central to democracy is not just about people being able to say whatever they want. Fundamentally it is about the freedom to speak out against power. This is a freedom that resists religious and political dogma by asserting the fundamental democratic ‘right to critique’. The right to critique means we do not have to accept the injunctions of authority and are free to question and oppose them. This is a right that sets out to limit political power by always accepting that the people can speak out against it. The right to critique is not selective. For democracy it applies universally. Not so it seems for the present Australian government, who are well known for trying to quash any dissent that isn’t issued by them. Recent criticism of the effects of the ‘stop the boats’ policy on children in detention by the Human Rights Commission was slammed by Abbot. He suggested that those who had spoken out of the issues of physical and sexual abuse of children should be ashamed of themselves. Freedom of speech? Criticizing this government is just not to be tolerated. Where is freedom of speech when Abbott went on record saying that it was a ‘sacking offence’ for anyone in his office to background against MPs. No talk of freedom either when public broadcasters ABC and SBS suffered funding cuts. Criticism over Abbot’s ‘captain’s call’ to knight Prince Phillip were dismissed. “Electronic graffiti,” he called it. So whose free speech should the government listen to? In response to criticisms over Prince Philip’s knighthood, Coalition MP Michael McCormack spoke up from the backbenches urging Abbott not to worry about “texting, latte-sipping, keyboard warriors who frequent the tapas bars of Sydney and Melbourne”. Criticisms levelled by “tea-leaf reading groups” who busy themselves on Twitter are also to be shunned. 508 McCormack advised Abbott to hurry along to the Royal Hotel in Grong Grong. It would be there, in a Riverina farming village far from the city life, that Abbott could get his hands on the opinion of real Australia. This claim to the location of the real public voice reflects a deeply discriminatory and exclusionary politics. The ‘latte’ McCormack refers to is, of course, a drink that was brought to Australia by immigrants, welcomed by a country still beholden to the White Australia policy. There’s none of that in the Royal Hotel, which opened in 1875 in Grong Grong. A town where nine in every 10 people were born in Australia, and Christianity is by far the majority religion. If anything, the demographic of Grong Grong is not so far from that of Abbott’s cabinet. This is an image of Australia that does not reflect who its ‘public’ really are. Of course, the opinion of people in Grong Grong matters, but it does not matter more than anyone else’s opinion. A government which only listens to those who it sees in its own white image, and which selectively condemns terrorism when it is committed against the west, is not a government that believes in democracy. As far as this government is concerned, in today’s Australia, free speech and the right to critique are unequally distributed along racial or religious lines. * Carl Rhodes is a Professor of Management and Organization Studies, within the Department of Marketing and Management at theMacquarie University, Sydney. Apr 5, 2014 David Marr on race, votes and free speech David Marr 509 Yes, George, people do have a right to be bigots. And political parties have a right to harvest their votes. That’s what’s going on here. Gutting the Racial Discrimination Act isn’t about free speech or vindicating a star News Corp columnist. Not really. It’s a clever gambit to persuade a slice of the electorate that Tony Abbott is running a government after their own hearts – one that understands, even respects, what they feel about Aborigines, immigrants, Muslims and boat people. It’s the race vote. Both sides of politics are keen to recruit and careful to hold the affection of the Australia of old race fears. It’s not a small constituency. Whose heart wouldn’t leap to see a government going all out for free speech? How wonderful it is to hear George Brandis and Abbott singing psalms to liberty. Their enthusiasm seems to herald a profound change of thinking for the Coalition. In John Howard’s time, dissenting NGOs were terrified of losing their funding; the national museum was turned over for honouring black deaths on the frontier; armies of police were mobilised against demonstrators; the press was barred absolutely from the battle against the boats; parliament passed sedition laws of unprecedented severity; and the ABC endured more than a decade of abuse for not thinking the way the government wanted it to think. What’s changed under Abbott? The ABC is under attack again. So great is the secrecy surrounding the boats, his government is backing attempts by PNG to shut down judicial inquiries into the conditions on Manus and plans never to release police reports into the recent mayhem and death on the island. In his other guise as minister for the arts, Senator Brandis has told the Australia Council it must punish demonstrators against the government. “Artists like everybody else are entitled to voice their political opinions,” he assured the chairman of the Australia Council Rupert Myer. But he denounced as appalling and shameful the Sydney Biennale turning down money from a private sponsor enriched by the running of prison camps on Manus and Nauru. Brandis bluntly threatened Myer: he must either promise that “Australia Council funding would no longer be available” to an arts body under these circumstances or he would intervene as minister to impose the rule himself. “You will readily understand that taxpayers 510 will say to themselves: ‘If the Sydney Biennale doesn’t need Transfield’s money, why should they be asking for ours?’” It doesn’t feel like a fresh dawn of liberty. Yet Brandis and Abbott are claiming that in the noble cause of free speech, the Racial Discrimination Act is to be gutted to allow unrestrained attacks on blacks, Jews, Chinese and the rest in the course of “public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter”. The present act has to be changed – a little. Hurt feelings should never attract the law as they do now under section 18C. Offence and insults are the everyday reality of free discourse. But this proposal goes so much further. What was once excused in private would be licensed in public. The law would set no brake on racial vilification in almost any imaginable public discourse. Why would a government propose such a thing? It would save Andrew Bolt. His was not a freedom of speech problem but a problem of shoddy journalism. He didn’t come a cropper under the act for examining a delicate subject – the aboriginality of those who claim to be Aboriginal – but for getting it spectacularly wrong. Even before he appeared in the Federal Court, Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times had to admit that nine of the 18 pale blacks he mocked and derided for adopting Aboriginality late in life had grown up from childhood regarding themselves and being regarded as Aborigines. These facts were readily available, said Justice Mordecai Bromberg, “including by Mr Bolt contacting the individuals concerned. Mr Bolt presented evidence of having undertaken some online research about the individuals, but it was not evidence upon which I could be satisfied that a diligent attempt had been made to make reasonable inquiries.” Bromberg clearly despised Bolt’s language, but getting the facts so wrong lost the columnist the free speech protections of the act. The Abbott/Brandis solution is to get rid of 18D’s demand for fairness, accuracy, good faith and reasonableness. With those consigned to the 511 dustbin it doesn’t really matter what a new 18C might have to say about vilification and intimidation. It would be a new era of anything goes in public discourse on race. But Bolt is a constituency of one. True he is a great friend of the prime minister and the Coalition, but blaming the gutting of the Racial Discrimination Act on a highly protected columnist of News Corp gives him too much credit. There are big numbers in play here: the millions in this country who, like him, are troubled by race. Brandis might call them bigots but his party wants their vote. So does Labor. The temper of public life in this country is often determined by the answer to a single question: what are politicians willing to offer this constituency to win its vote? Mapping the Australia of old race fears is one of the tasks of the Scanlon Foundation’s impeccable annual surveys of social cohesion. The 2013 survey found 25 per cent of us have “negative sentiments” about migrants from the Middle East. That’s the national figure. In suburban Brisbane add another 10 per cent. On the Atherton Tableland dislike edges up to 42 per cent. Polling in a handful of centres in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia shows 28 to 45 per cent of those living in these rural and suburban communities troubled by Muslims. Pollsters don’t call the issue race. They call it cultural diversity. Professor Andrew Markus of Monash University who conducts the surveys for the Scanlon Foundation says of Australia: “There is a core of 10 per cent and a wider group around 25 to 30 per cent with strong negative views towards cultural diversity.” And those numbers seem to be growing. This is a tolerant country that absorbs migrants with astonishing success. But politics in Australia cannot be understood unless we face the fact that strong minority resentments remain in play. Harvesting them is a matter of constant concern for strategists on both sides of the House. These are the people Abbott is after by promising to free race speech from irritating restrictions of restraint and accuracy. Meanwhile, the Minister for Education Christopher 512 Pyne is making his pitch to the same constituency with familiar promises to strip indigenous issues from school curriculums. The figures are with him: research conducted by Auspoll for Reconciliation Australia in 2012 shows about a third of us don’t think Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are important to our national identity. Nearly 20 per cent of us don’t think it’s important even to know about them. Good pickings there. But the trick here is never, no matter how distasteful the strategy, to disgust the wider, more tolerant electorate. Howard was a master of the art of staying this side of the contemptible, always so carefully disguising what he was about: “We will decide who comes to this country…” The cry of freedom has not given Abbott’s strategy a cloak of invisibility. It’s looking disgusting. Abbott appears to have misjudged. News Corp is campaigning full throttle on his behalf. So are many with a pure commitment to absolute free speech. An Essential poll this week shows the prime minister also has a good chunk of the public on his side: 38 per cent are for and 44 per cent against changing the Racial Discrimination Act. Yet he is at an impasse. He has made some implacable enemies along the way. The Jewish community will not let this issue go. Nor will key leaders of the black community. The senate is opposed. Even a few Liberal backbenchers are in open revolt. But even if Abbott is forced to retreat, he will have done his work. Out there in every town and suburb of this country are voters pleased to think that in Canberra there’s a man and a government happy to let them say what they really think about darkies and slopes and Muzzies. They will call this what Abbott calls it: freedom. This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 5, 2014 as "Race, votes and free speech". Subscribe here. 513 Australia’s Declared War On Muslims By Ghali Hassan 31 December, 2014 Countercurrents.org It is official: Australia is at war with Muslims and Islam. Australian politicians and the racist media are fanning the flame of prejudice and racially-motivated violence against Muslims. Anti-Muslims bigotry has become the most important issue in Australian politics. The aim is to demonise Muslims and connect Muslim Australians to U.S.-led war in the Middle East and justify Australia’s direct complicity in U.S.-led imperialist aggression in Syria and Iraq. First let’s look at how Australia treats Muslim Australians. The 2014 Social Cohesion report, published by Monash University and the Scanlon Foundation found that Australians were five times more likely to hold negative attitudes towards Muslims than any other religious group. The Government and the media bear full responsibility for the rise in Islamophobic and racially motivated attacks against Muslim Australians. Just as the Western bloodletting in Syria and Iraq began, the “Coalition Government” – a substitute for a neo-Fascist Liberal government – of Prime Minister Tony Abbott has begun a vicious campaign against Muslim Australians and Islam. The Government resurrected an old campaign of vilifying and demonising Muslim Australians. The racist campaign is designed to manipulate and scare the public into supporting U.S. war on Iraq and Syria and more importantly as a diversion to divert the Australian public away from serious economic issues and from rampant government corruption and incompetency to govern the country. The Australian Government fabricated a “threat to Australia's security”, allegedly posed by Muslim Australians who travel to the Middle East, to justify new draconian “anti-terrorism” laws targeting the Australian Muslim Community. Echoing war criminal George W. Bush's racist and divisive call of “you are either with us or against us”, Tony Abbott is calling on Muslim Australians to join his neo-Fascist Liberals 514 “team Australia” or else. He is telling Muslim Australians, “You are all guilty until proven innocent”. On 21 August 2014, Mr Abbott told an audience in Adelaide: “Extremism is the enemy, not Islam”. We all know that “extremism” is a catch-all word for all Muslims. According to Abbott's sick mind, Muslim Australians who refuse to join Abbott's “team” will be considered “extremists”. Taking his cue from notorious war criminals like Tony Blair and Dick Cheney, one of Abbott's advisers, retired Australian army Chief Peter Leahy – a warmonger who has become a fixture on the Australian TV screens – was more frank when he said: “We will fight Islam for 100 years”. It is difficult to discern the reasons behind Australians hatred for Muslims and Islam. Repeating his mentor, the bigoted John Howard, Mr Abbott said recently: "If someone [Muslim woman] walked into a bank with a full covering of their body, I'd be fretting about it. There are legitimate security issues that people have when someone walks into a public place where you cannot identify them". Mr Abbott was attacking the few dozens of Muslim women who wear Hijab or Niqab. It is “confronting” to see people like these, said Mr Abbot. “Confronting” is a loaded word which implies a threat to society and aimed at fuelling anti- Muslim sentiment. It was used by Howard and his Liberals gang, including Mr Abbott to demonise Muslim women. Of course, Howard’s racism has a trickle down effects on the wider society. Howard was elected Prime Minister four times. Even Howard’s direct complicity in international war crimes and the bloodbath in Iraq did not deterred Australians from voting for him. The Abbott’s government is using the same fear-mongering policy, scapegoating refugees and Muslim Australians to win votes. Indeed, the Abbott’s government won the last elections by scapegoating desperate refugees and Muslim Australians. Muslim Australians are persecuted for being Muslims. The Niqab or Hijab is a pretext for persecution and used to encourage attacks on Muslim women. In Australia, there are only a few dozen women wear the Niqab or the Hijab, mainly from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. The Veil (the headscarf), which is more common around the world, has nothing to do with Islam and has been used by women before Islam. It is a culture practice. It is worn by women in all religions. Women are free to wear whatever they like, and Muslim women are no different from non-Muslim women. As far as this author knows, there are no Burqa in Australia. The Burqa was introduced in Afghanistan in the 19th century during the British invasion of Afghanistan. It was worn by 515 Afghan women and girls to cover their bodies in public and protect them from the British invading forces. Of course, the British never stop going to Afghanistan to “liberate” Afghan women from the oppression they had instituted there. The impact of this vicious campaign of demonising and vilifying Muslims and Islam is to feed a rising tide of Islamophobic and racially-motivated violent attacks on Muslim Australians. A recent Vic Health research into Victorian attitudes to race and cultural diversity has found that, about 40 per cent of Australians feel “cold” towards Muslim Australians, Australians of Middle Eastern, African backgrounds and refugees. It is most likely those Australians who feel “cold” have never met a Muslim Australian, an African Australian or a refugee. Their knowledge of Muslims, Africans and refuges is acquired from a daily diet of racism and xenophobia supplied by neo-Fascist politicians and the racist media. Victoria Police confirmed that more Muslim Australians were reporting public assaults, discrimination and crimes motivated by prejudice. Furthermore, the Muslim Legal Network compiled a large number of anti-Islamic assaults and acts of violence, including threats made against the Grand Mufti of Australia. "In one case, a western Sydney mother and her baby were spat on and her pram kicked. In another, a man in Perth tried to rip the scarf off a woman's head. Several mosques around the country have been threatened, egged, vandalised and a pig's head impaled on a cross," said Mariam Veiszadeh, a lawyer and Islamic community spokesperson. In addition, the vicious campaign is designed to foster fear and prejudice in the non-Muslim Australian population. Muslim Australians, on the other hand, live in fear and Muslim women, who wear the traditional Niqab or Hijab, bear the brunt of the violence. The neo-Fascist Liberals have made it their business to persecute Muslim women who do not conform to their likening. What clothing they should wear? Where they should go? Their freedom must be curtailed “for their own good”. It is important to remember that, Muslim women decide what to wear as a matter of personal choice, and has nothing to do with religion. Full clothing is used as a “protection” against the sexual objectification of the female body. Before Australian politicians have the audacity to lecture Muslim women on oppression and women rights, they should look no further than their own backyards. Australia has one of the highest (if not the highest) rate of violence against women in the world. It is on a par with savage Papua New Guinea (PNG). According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, one woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner 516 (AIC, 2013), and one in three women say they have suffered violence from someone they know. Moreover, it is a disgrace that, Australia is one of the leading countries in the sexual objectification of women. Women are treated as chattels to be used and discarded at will. Muslim women do not need Australian politicians to speak on their behalf. If Tony Abbott and his neo-Fascist Liberals are serious about the human rights of Muslim women, they should immediately: (1) free all Muslim women refugees (and their children) that are languishing in Australian prison camps in remote parts of Australia, Nauru, PNG and soon to be Cambodia, and (2) make it their policy to treat refugees, including women as humans by abolishing the immoral and criminal policy of refugees and stop trafficking in refugees. Australians politicians – if they have the slightest courage – should condemn in the strongest term the Israeli fascist regime on-going imprisonment and sexual abuses of Palestinian women in Palestine. On Wednesday 24 September 2014 – just a few days before Mr Abbott warned of random attacks by Muslim Australians –, an Australian teenager (18-year-old Abdul Numan Haider) was shot dead by police outside a Melbourne police station. He was executed in broad daylight after attending an interview with the police at the Endeavour Hills Police Station. Why he went unaccompanied is not known. The police have alleged that the youth was carrying a knife and has attacked two police officers. The police provided no evidence and there was no CCTV footage of the incident at the police station. The youth is a well-liked, has no history of violence and has committed no crimes. After his death, the police and the media concocted a “radicalised” profile for him. That is, he was seen praying and carrying a religious flag, and has not been assimilated into Western decadence. In a nutshell, he was accused of posing a “threat to Australia’s security”. His death and the anti-Muslim false propaganda associated with it justifies imposing new anti-Muslims draconian laws. Young Muslim men became that convenient scapegoat in a racist society that is immediately suspicious of people of colour. Any Muslim, who dares to speak up against Western- perpetuated war crimes, including the rape of Muslim women and the slaughter of innocent Muslim women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen, is a “radicalised extremist” and must be stopped at all costs. By contrast, criminals who pose serious threat to the Community are set free and allowed to spread anti-Muslim propaganda. The case of “Man Haron Monis” (also known as, 517 Mohammed Manteghi and Manteghi Boroujerdi), the thug who took 17 hostages at Lindt Café in Sydney on 15 December 2014, is a case in point. Let’s call him Monis. We know now that Monis was on parole for crimes committed in Australia. We also know that he has committed crimes in Iran before fleeing to Australia in 1996. We also know that the Iranian government has requested his extradition, but rebuffed by Australian authorities. Monis entered Australia as a “refugee” in 1996 and was granted political asylum in 2001. In 2004 Monis was granted Australian citizenship and began waving the Union Jack. Monis was used as the perfect native stooge to serve the Australian government’s anti- Muslim agenda. The media, led by the Zionist ABC, referred to him as the “Muslim cleric” and often showed him in fake Islamic attire to associate him and his crimes with Islam. He was attacking Islam and spreading anti-Iran and anti-Syria false propaganda. As a fake pro- Western “cleric”, Monis often bragged about his love for the “West” and praised the Anglo- American criminal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Monis was known to authorities and was on the radar screens of law enforcement agencies, the media and the Australian government. In 2008, Monis was removed from the “Security Watch List” despite warning by well-known senior Muslim Australians of his criminal behaviour and potential threat to Australians. Soon after, he swore allegiance to the “Islamic State” IS or ISIS, the U.S.-Israel proxy terror network. The Australian government’s anti-Syria policy is contributing to the increase in Australian recruits willing to travel to Syria to fight on the side of the terrorists. Like all Muslim communities around the world, the Muslim Community in Australia is infiltrated by Intel agents from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and co-opted informants. The Government and its Intel agencies know that Australia, Sydney in particular, is one of the world’s largest recruiting grounds for anti-Syria terrorists and ISIS mercenaries. Unfortunately, many Muslim Australians, especially the self-appointed “community leaders” have fallen for the Australian government’s false propaganda of justifying its attacks on Muslims and Islam. Some of these “leaders” are going as far as spying on their fellow Muslims and calling on Muslim Australians to buy into the government’s false propaganda. That is, ISIS is an “Islamic insurgency” or “Islamic cult” fighting with an anti-Western “Islamic ideology” against “Western values” that combined with great efforts to whitewash 518 Western war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is a falsehood that forms part of Western governments’ efforts to associate ISIS with Islam and Muslims. Monis' crimes were not only predictable but also preventable. Instead of spreading anti- Muslim lies, the media should ask whether the Australian Intel agencies had prior knowledge of Monis criminal act and who supplied him with guns. After his death, which cost the lives of two innocent young people, politicians and the media couldn’t be happier. Monis crimes are now used by the media and politicians to fuel the stereotypes that Muslims are essentially “dangerous extremists” and justify stronger surveillance powers against Australians who the Government depicts as “radicalised” Muslims. Muslim Australians are not “radicalised”. These are false accusations to demonise the entire Muslim community. If some Muslim youth are “radicalised”, it is because of Australia’s complicity in U.S.-led war of aggression on Islamic countries, and more importantly, Australia’s systemic racism and racist attitudes toward Muslims in particular. Muslim Australians are marginalised, discriminated against and often abused because of their religion and the colour of their skin. They are alienated and made to feel they do not belong here. The government and its agencies, the Anglo-Zionist media, the police, the justice system, and the education system, including universities cannot function without a daily concentrated dose of insidious racism. Whether in government departments, the media, the Justice system or the universities, the most indoctrinated and insidiously racist Australians control key positions. They decide who is “Australian” and who is not. Who they employ and who they don’t. Employment in these departments and the universities is based entirely on racism and nepotism, and it is exclusively for white Anglo-Europeans. It creates a very corrupt apartheid- like system. For example, Muslim Australians with higher education qualifications (Masters and PhDs) have the highest rate of unemployment in Australia when compared with the general population. “Now and then, a few crumbs are thrown for those “ethnic Australians” who are more racist than whites and are ready to serve whites. They are used as PR to provide a veneer for a shallow “multiculturalism”, a collection of designated ethnic boxes that despise each other and designed to protect white supremacy. The latest Mapping Social Cohesion survey by the Scanlon Foundation found 19 per cent of Australians were discriminated against because of their skin colour, ethnic origin or religious beliefs – up from 12 per cent in 2012. It was the highest level since the survey began in 2007”. 519 When it comes to racism, White Australians treat non-white people as subhuman, and are in complete denial that racism even it exists in Australia. In fact, there is nothing White Australians hate more than being called racist. Racism is deeply rooted in this very backward society. It is subtle form of racism, simmering just beneath the thin surface. The rise in ignorance and racism toward Muslim Australians stems from a myopia affecting all Australians, including the most “educated”. The government-installed and funded bodies like the Office of the Ombudsman and the Anti-Discrimination Commission are tasked to implement white Australia’s racist policies of normalising racism and discrimination. The prime objective is to protect racist Australians from being accused of racism and victimise the victims of racism. Under the cover of “fighting terrorism”, the Abbott government, with the support of the “Opposition” Labor Party, have turned Australia into a truly police state for Muslims. The new legislations could see journalists jailed for reporting on related matters. (See: Crackdown on freedoms? Australian Senate passes draconian anti-terror laws). In addition to the 43 laws that are already in place, the new repressive anti-Muslim laws have absolutely nothing to do with national security. Rather, the new laws (like the old ones) are aimed at criminalising Muslim and Arab Australians, restricting the right of all Australians to live in a free country and intensifying police state measures. For example, according to Bret Walker, the former independent national security legislation monitor, the new laws will make it a crime for the media to disclose the death of an innocent bystander caught up in a bungled covert spy agency operation. All in the name of “fighting terrorism” people will simply disappear without a trace. Let’s put empty and manipulative rhetoric aside, there is no such thing as “fighting terrorism”; creating and fighting terrorism would be an appropriate slogan. Terrorism is a Western-made instrument used to advance Western-Zionist interests at home and abroad. Terrorism brought great benefits to Western nations that pretend to fight terrorism. The fraudulent “War on Terror” is in reality a war of terror unleashed against defenceless nations in flagrant violations of international law and civilised norms. Under the cover of fighting terrorism, the U.S. and its Western allies have illegally invaded and occupied several sovereign nations and exploited their resources by simply accusing them – without evidence – of “supporting terrorism”. The U.S. and its fascist ally Israel have consolidated their Zionist 520 dominance over the Middle East. Furthermore, in the name of fighting terrorism, Western governments have enacted draconian “anti-terrorism” laws to crackdown on civil liberties and anti-repression protests. In Australia, the new “anti-terrorism” laws, “would extend the powers of government at the expense of [Australian] citizens is unexpected and quite shocking, observed George Williams, a professor of law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. By “allowing innocent Australians to be detained in secret and subjected to coercive questioning by ASIO is more suited to dictatorship regimes”, added Williams (SMH, 11 August 2014). In particular, the government wants to extend the life of three extraordinary regimes until the middle of the next decade. These provide for preventative detention orders, control orders and questioning and detention by ASIO. “None of these regimes can now be found in nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom”, added Williams. The label of “terrorist” applies to Muslim (and Arab) Australians only. White Australians (Christians or Jews) who commit acts of terrorism are labelled as “psychopaths” or “loners”, not terrorists. Every Muslim Australian is a target and every Muslim Australian is guilty until proven innocent. In other words, a false shadow of guilt is cast on every Muslim Australian. Any Muslim Australian could fall foul of the new laws even if he/she simply advocating the duty of a Muslim to defend his/her land. Of course, for ASIO and its variants, the threat of terrorism is a lucrative business. ASIO’s budget has swollen in recent time at the expense of education, health and the environment. “The war on terror has now become a war without end: a permanent state where a politically constructed ‘national security’ trumps the actual security of citizens and feeds a continual ideological campaign to discipline and intimidate the Muslim community”, writes Seumas Milne of the Guardian in Britain. The Muslim community is singled out by politicians and the media because it is a small – 2% of the population – and divided community. Muslims lack a power base to defend them in Australia or outside Australia. In Australia, Muslims are defenceless against discrimination and racially-motivated violence. Outside Australia, the Muslim community do not expect the profane White Turks or the Saudi dictators to stand up for them when they are attacked and their properties desecrated. It is also easy to single out the Muslim community because of years of demonization and vilification by politicians and the Australian racist media. 521 Furthermore, the new laws will also allow Muslim Australians to be jailed for up to 10 years for travelling in certain countries. The Abbott government could declare any country to be a no-go zone on the basis that a listed organisation is engaging in anti-Western activity there. Iraq and Syria certainly come to mind. Muslim and Arab Australians who travel to the Middle East to visit their relatives and friends will be labelled “terrorists” and accused of endangering “Australian security”. They risk prosecution and even jail if they return to Australia. Indeed, several innocent Muslim Australians have been detained at Australian airports in the past few months and prevented from leaving the country because of their Middle Eastern backgrounds. Moreover, the Abbott government is introducing legislation to stop welfare payments for Muslim Australians who the government and its security agencies deemed pose a ''serious threat to Australia's national security''. The Nazis-like laws are forcing Muslims to live in fear. Yet the Abbott government and its Intel agency have nothing to say about hundreds of Australian Jews (“dual citizens”) who travel to Israel – a self-declared religio-fascist entity (“Jewish State”), guided by a Jewish supremacist ideology – to join the Israeli fascist army in its Jewish ritual of murdering of innocent Palestinian women and children. They are not labelled terrorists. They return to Australia as heroes, wandering the streets of Melbourne and Sydney with Palestinian blood on their hands. They do not risk arrest for war crimes or being called terrorists. The Australian media and Australia's despicable journalists and commentators treat these war criminals with deafening silence. The fears that Muslim Australians of Middle Eastern backgrounds could pose a threat in Australia are absurd and racist. It is a hysteria created by politicians, ASIO and the media to justify repressive measures. There has been no act of terrorism committed in Australia by Muslim Australians. People are targeted because of their Islamic faith, and for offences unrelated to terrorism. Innocent Muslim Australians are framed by ASIO and the police in so- called “Sting Operations”, prosecuted and imprisoned on fabricated charges and offences unrelated to terrorism. As Melbourne barrister Greg Barns observed recently; “there is a history in this country in recent years of hyperbole, sensationalism, paranoia and misconstruing of conversations and activities when it comes to reporting on and about Australia's anti-terror laws.” For example, a Muslim Australian man was accused (by police and the media) with conspiring to behead a random person in Sydney's CBD, but the raid 522 which involved 800 police found the sword to be a plastic decoration common in almost every Muslim household. From waging the war on Muslims at home in Australia to waging war on Muslims abroad, the Australian political and military establishments were thrilled by Obama’s request that Australia joins the U.S. war on Iraq and Syria. Australia’s decision to join the U.S. bombing of Iraq has little to do with any genuine consideration for “terrorism” and “human rights”. The decision was made with barely a murmur and without parliamentary approval, despite overwhelming public opposition to war. We do know that Australia’s foreign policy has nothing to do with “Australia’s interests”. Australia’s foreign policy is designed to please the U.S. regime. The Australian government is proud to be one of the most obedient U.S. lapdogs. Australian politicians will jump on the U.S. war bandwagon before a U.S. president utters a word or two. The pretext to join U.S.-led war is as always; “humanitarian”. On 28 August 2014, Tony Abbotts unashamedly told Parliament, “that no one in this Parliament I am sure, no human being anywhere, would wish to stand by and watch the preventable slaughter of innocent people” by ISIS mercenaries. Hypocrite is not the word to describe someone who is very sick with the contagious disease of dishonesty. Mr Abbott and his neo- Fascist Liberals had often stood by and watched the slaughter (genocide) of innocent Palestinian women and children by the Israeli fascist regime in Palestine. In 2014 alone, the Israeli army and Israeli Gestapo thugs had killed 2,260 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including 600 children. According to the UN, the majority of those deaths occurred in the 50-day attacks on Gaza in which 2,192 Palestinians were killed, the overwhelming majority were civilians. Mr Abbott will commit political suicide before he dares to criticise the Israeli fascist regime. The Nazi lobby in Melbourne will have none of it. Keeping with its Anglo-Zionist traditions, Australia remains unconditional supporter of the Israeli fascist regime, even when it massacred innocent Palestinian women and children in broad daylight. Australia’s immoral and criminal treatment of refugees fleeing war zones is another example of a classic hypocrisy. Since 2011, Australia has been at the forefront, supporting the anti-Syrian Government terrorists, including ISIS mercenaries in their reign of terror against the Syrian people. Following the U.S. diktats, the Australian government has imposed sanctions against Syria and Syrian diplomats in Canberra were expelled. In addition, the Australian government is no 523 longer recognises the legitimacy of the Syrian Government despite President al-Assad having been re-elected with 88.7 per cent of the vote in June 2014. Australia provides assistance to “refugee camps” in ISIS-control territory in Syria and the Australian media spread anti-Syrian government false propaganda. In joining the U.S.-led war on Iraq and Syria, Australia is making the same mistake it made in 2003, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Western policies of “humanitarian interventions” and “promoting democracy” are nothing more than a cover for illegal aggression, in violation of international and human rights laws. If Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his ministers are concern about Australia’s security and want to make all Australians fell they live in an egalitarian society, they can achieve an effective solution by: (1) abolishing the anti-Muslim laws and abandoning anti-Muslim propaganda, (2) banning Islamophobia and all forms of racism and discrimination against Muslims, (3) stop Australia’s direct complicity in U.S.-led wars of aggression, and (4) direct Australia’s “humanitarian intervention” at helping people fleeing wars. Ghali Hassan is an independent researcher and writer living in Australia. Abbott and his Politics of Hate  December 3, 2014  Written by: John Lord John Howard had his haters, mainly because of his decision to back George W Bush in an illegal war. Spurred on by a hateful media Julia Gillard was loathed by many because of a perceived lie. When people hate politicians, they do so with malevolent intent. Often hate is attractive to unthinking, ill-informed minds. It is born of trepidation. A fear of not understanding. This can be witnessed in the audiences that people like Bolt, Jones, Hadley and others attract. Or when the Murdoch presses display their detestation, in all its putrid ugliness, on the front pages of their tabloids. 524 Hate reveals itself in politics, sport, self, jealousy, race, religion, culture and relationship. Hate is simply an outward manifestation of our inner struggles with our faults and flaws? Hate also expresses itself in leadership. The way leaders conduct themselves is reflected in the decisions they make. On a grand scale leaders like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot displayed hate in all its viciousness. We all have the capacity for it. A sportsperson out of the blue utters a racial slur, born of hate that is completely out of character. They cannot explain why but usually their hatred is born of ignorance, something they dread, or is foreign to them. It seems to me that hatred is fear without courage aligned with an inability to forgive. An incapacity to manage past hurts, losses and taught or acquired prejudices. Fear goes immediately to blame and from blame a desire for vindication or revenge that manifests itself in hatred. Every day the Abbott Government portrays a sense of loathing. Since gaining power Tony Abbott and his government has shown a hatred for all things Labor that has surpassed the usual transitional norm. At the launch of the Paul Kelly book ‘’Triumph and Demise’’ in which he expressed the view that our democracy was in trouble Tony Abbott said there was nothing wrong with it. ‘’It’s only the people who inhabit it from time to time’’ A clear example of his revulsion of all things Labor. Another, is his comment on Labor’s environment policy. It’s socialism masquerading as environmentalism.” In Opposition Tony Abbott made it abundantly clear that he was there to oppose everything and that’s exactly what he did. He opposed everything with combative belligerence, often using sexism as a means of degrading his opponent. He created a shock and awe mentality of a government out of control. His loathing of a female Prime Minister transferred into 525 misogyny. The media said he was the most successful Opposition Leader the country had ever had. A strange measure of success based on hate. His Prime Ministership began with a determination to impose his born to rule Neo conservative ideology on the electorate and two Royal Commissions. An unprecedented decision to release cabinet documents as evidence in the commissions showed just how far he was prepared to allow his hatred to go. The first was into the management of the Pink Bats Scheme. It reached conclusions no different from the previous 8 inquiries. The Government has said it will respond to its recommendations before Christmas. Will it risk more criticism of its already negative public image with more vindictiveness? Secondly it instigated another Royal Commission into Unions. John Howard saw through Abbott’s spite, saying they were a bad idea. Then an orchestrated campaign of hatred in tandem with Murdoch was launched against the ABC. Their hatred for asylum seekers is well-known. They have been demonising them for many years. There are now over 600 children locked up in detention centers. 459 are on the Australian mainland and 144 on Christmas Island. There are 186 children detained on Nauru without any chance of being resettled in Australia. What is their crime? They hate people who worry about ‘’Climate Change’’ and want to do something about it labeling them as alarmists, dismissing science as superfluous to the debate. Yes they hate science if it transgresses the corporation’s capitalistic agenda. The right to profit from pollution no matter the harm it does. They hate that everyday Australians consider it unfair for the poor to have to pay $7 for going to a GP while millionaire mothers receive cheques for $50,000 for having a baby. And they hate trade unions and resent the working people who choose to join them. They hate that young people are objecting to deregulated university fees. 526 Pensioners are not spared their vengeance either with a deliberate attempt to lower their living standards. If ever one wanted evidence of this government’s hatred of the poor and middle classes one only has to look at the current budget. Ross Gittens put it this way. ‘’The first and biggest reason the government is having to modify or abandon so many of its measures is the budget’s blatant unfairness. In 40 years of budget-watching I’ve seen plenty of unfair budgets, but never one as bad as this’’ To hate with conviction requires a capacity to lie with unabashed certitude. To legitimise it to the point that people think they are no longer communicating in English. At his press conference December 1, Abbott was still insisting that ‘’all’’ families were $550 better off on their power bills since the removal of the carbon tax. An unmitigated blatant, deliberate lie. Nobody lies with greater sincerity than the Prime Minister. As a professed Christian he should know that nothing good was ever built on a foundation of hate. The Prime Minister and his government has shown an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have hate on their lips and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile. Those on the left of politics, the progressive social democratic engineers of society, are concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right, the conservative privileged elitists, are concerned with those who can. PS I hated writing that. Tony Abbott blames carbon tax for 'uncertainty' Updated 23 Aug 2012, 8:30amThu 23 Aug 2012, 8:30am 527 Leigh Sales interviews Opposition Leader Tony Abbott about his stance on BHP's Olympic Dam deferral and his references to "illegal" asylum arrivals. Leigh Sales Source: 7.30 | Duration: 12min 32sec Topics: federal-government, federal-parliament, liberals, australia, parliament-house-2600 Hide transcript LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: To discuss the BHP announcement today and other issues I was joined moments ago from Parliament House in Canberra by the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott, welcome to the program. TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: Evening, Leigh. LEIGH SALES: You were pretty loose with the truth today, weren't you, when you said that BHP's decision to put the Olympic Dam project on hold was partly due to the Federal Government's new taxes? TONY ABBOTT: Not at all, Leigh. For months BHP have been warning that the carbon tax and the mining tax are making Australia a less competitive place to invest. And Marius Kloppers himself said back in June that the carbon tax and so on are all conspiring to turn Australia from a low cost to a high cost environment. LEIGH SALES: Well let me read you exactly what Marius Kloppers had to say today when he was asked if the decision on Olympic Dam was related to Australian taxes. He said, "The decision is almost wholly associated with in the first instance capital costs." He goes on to say "As you know, the tax environment for this particular project has not changed at all since we started working on it six or seven years ago. The MRRT only covers coal and iron ore, not copper, not gold and not uranium, so the tax situation for this project has not changed." TONY ABBOTT: And, Leigh, let me read you what Jacques Nasser said back in May. He said, "I cannot overstate how the level of uncertainty about Australia's tax system is 528 generating negative investor reaction." Sure, today, today, Marius Kloppers didn't want to make a very bad situation worse by directly blaming the Federal Government. Of course he didn't want to directly blame the Federal Government. But for months, for months BHP has been sending signals to the Government this build-up of tax, this build-up of high costs is making it much more difficult for this investment to go ahead. LEIGH SALES: But, today, if you're right, then why does it say nowhere in the BHP statement that there's anything to do with the Federal Government? If you go through the documents they blame weakness in commodity markets, industry-wide cost pressure, instability in the eurozone, the slowdown of growth in China. They haven't been backwards in criticising the Federal Government before, but they certainly haven't today. TONY ABBOTT: And, Leigh, they didn't need to say it today because they've said it so often in the recent past. LEIGH SALES: Well they listed everything else that was to blame. TONY ABBOTT: You're not seriously - you're not seriously telling me, Leigh, that the mining tax and the carbon tax have made Australia an easier place to invest in. LEIGH SALES: I'm going on the facts that Marius Kloppers said today when he was directly asked if the decision on Olympic Dam was affected by Australia's tax situation and I'm going on the facts that are outlined in their results statement that they've issued. Have you actually read BHP's statements? TONY ABBOTT: No, but I've also got again the statement of Jacques Nasser, who says, "While we're still evaluating the impact of the carbon tax, but it just makes it more difficult." LEIGH SALES: But hang on, no, no, you haven't read their statements today, but you're commenting about what they've announced today and how the Federal Government's to blame for that. TONY ABBOTT: Leigh, I didn't say that the carbon tax and the mining tax were solely to blame. I said that the carbon tax and the mining tax have created an environment where it's much more difficult for investments like this to go ahead. I bleed for the people of South 529 Australia tonight because there's 8,000 construction jobs, 4,000 production jobs and 13,000 associated jobs that are at the very best on indefinite hold because of this decision. LEIGH SALES: How do you know more what's to blame though? TONY ABBOTT: And the mining tax and the carbon tax make a bad investment environment much, much worse. LEIGH SALES: How do you know more what's to blame than Marius Kloppers, who I presume has read his own documents? TONY ABBOTT: And, Leigh, I've been reading what they've been saying for the last few months. LEIGH SALES: Tony Abbott, on the carbon tax you've been saying that it would be a wrecking ball through the economy, but if you look at the latest jobs figures, more people are in employment, the economy continues to grow solidly, inflation is low. Are you once again being a little bit loose with the facts there? TONY ABBOTT: Leigh, 1st July wasn't the end of the pain; 1st July is the beginning of the pain. And the carbon tax, don't forget, just goes up and up and up. It's $29 a tonne in 2015, it's $37 a tonne in 2020, it's $350 a tonne in 2050, if it's not repealed. Now, it is, as I've been saying, a python squeeze, not a cobra strike, but it starts to hurt from day one. LEIGH SALES: But where is the evidence if it's hurting from day one of a wrecking ball through the economy? TONY ABBOTT: Well, I think that we can say that in some ways at least the postponement of Olympic Dam is the biggest