Category Archives: Political commentary

Dear Labor

[Just out at Pearls & Irritations. Lately I’ve been avoiding politics, it’s bad for my health. Especially after the Eden-Monaro by-election, in which almost everyone retreated to their usual tribal habits. Never mind drought, six megafires, floods, virus … Hard to fathom.]

Andrew Fisher, three times PM

Dear Labor. Has anyone among your parliamentary cohort noticed that neoliberalism is a failure? Has it occurred to anyone that promoting selfishness and making people insecure is a recipe for people to turn on each other and shred the social fabric? Does anyone think it might be time to stop being Liberal-lite? Time to champion the battlers and stop pandering to the fat cats? Time for a Labor party to remember why it was founded?

The current lesson is stark. Private aged care facilities that are under-staffed, under-resourced and disgustingly incompetent at care. Insecure, untrained ‘security’ guards fail to maintain hotel quarantine, and become virus spreaders instead. That is where outsourcing and privatising has got us.

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A chance in Eden-Monaro to reject third-rate governance

[Published at Independent Australia 14, June, but with the headline seriously neutered. See note at end*. May be the end of the line with IA, sad to say.]

The political class keeps acting as though the Government deserves to be taken seriously, but the Government is grossly incompetent, corrupt, deluded and, by any reasonable standard of truth, illegitimate. That the Opposition can’t beat them constitutes its own calamitous failure. Voters in the coming Eden-Monaro by-election have the choice of people who could actually represent, and govern.

There are some things the federal Government could be doing in response to the rapid-fire series of disasters still unfolding in Australia.

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Eden-Monaro can vote to bring us together

[Written for a certain ACT newspaper, but no response so far.]

Citizens in the Eden-Monaro electorate, which surrounds the ACT, have a chance in the coming by-election to vote for a new path in Australian politics. We can turn away from scandal, corruption, in-fighting and incompetence and towards a fair-go, full-employment Australia with a clean and healthy future.

We can turn away from the divisiveness that is having such tragic consequences in the United States. We can work together, as we have through the fires and the virus emergency.

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If you want a better deal, change your vote

[A by-election will be held in my electorate of Eden-Monaro 4 July. This and some likely subsequent posts are in this context, intended for local media—but relevant more widely. Published 17 June at District Bulletin.]

Karen Porter

If you vote the same you’ll get the same. Don’t expect much to change if the old parties stay in power. The Coalition is good at promising but not so good at delivering. That’s because they don’t really believe in government services, they think you should fend for yourself. Labor, with its usual daring, is being Liberal Lite.

So don’t expect much help with bushfire recovery. Don’t expect much to be done to avert more catastrophes. Don’t even expect much help if the virus killed your livelihood, if you vote for the same-old.

In this by-election there are some real choices, choices that can move us towards a better, fairer Australia – more like we used to be, actually. So now I’m going to suggest you step away from your old tribe and have a look at some new talent. Do you really have much to lose?

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High cost of immigration: GDP gets the sign wrong

Much of the alleged economic benefit of high immigration is actually a very large cost. GDP is not accounting, and its misuse as a measure of welfare distorts our priorities, in this case egregiously.

[Can’t seem to interest anyone in this argument. Looks like it can’t be right I suppose.]

Kristina Keneally, Labor’s immigration spokesperson, recently set the dogs barking again by arguing that the rate of immigration after covid-19 should be lower than the previous very high rate. She argued that we should look to get Australians back to work before importing more people (though her choice of phrasing could have been better).

The sudden dramatic drop in immigration is evidently of great concern to some, judging by a spate of opinion pieces at the ABC (e.g. here and here) and elsewhere reiterating the usual claim that a high immigration rate is good for the economy, or even essential to the economy.

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Immigration imposes a large net cost, and should be reduced

[I’ve posted on this before, but the issue keeps coming up.]

Jane O’Sullivan https://theconversation.com/profiles/jane-osullivan-1809

The dramatic drop in immigration because of the Covid-19 closure of our borders is causing concern among advocates of a high immigration rate, who claim it is essential to the economy. But there is a widely-overlooked and very large cost.

Discussing immigration in Australia is fraught, with any questioning of policy likely to generate outrage and to be labelled racist, populist, nationalist and an assault on Australia’s economy. All of that has followed Labor spokesperson Kristina Keneally’s rather mild suggestion that total numbers of immigrants ought to be lowered after the coronavirus shutdown, especially of temporary immigrants.

The rather hysterical response is partly just over-reaction, partly confected by those who support massive immigration, and partly reflecting common economic furphies.

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The betrayal, corruption and capture of the Liberal Party

[Published at Pearls and Irritations, 6 May]

The Liberal Party has strayed far from the vision propounded by its founder, Sir Robert Menzies, to the point of being captured by special interests.

According to former Senator Ron Boswell, Sir Robert Menzies, founder of the Liberal Party of Australia, said in 1970 

Australian Liberals are not the exponents of an open go, for if we are all to have an open go, each for himself and the devil take the hindmost, anarchy will result and both security and progress disappear

This is a clear repudiation of the idea of unregulated markets, an idea that came to dominate the world and the Liberal Party a decade or two later.

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Our politics is unworthy of us

 

We Australians in this bushfire summer have abundantly demonstrated our courage, resilience and ability to work together to do what needs to be done.

Not just firies on the front line but parents swallowing their own fear as they get their kids to safety, even if it’s only a beach with flames raging close by. Armies of other volunteers feeding and supporting emergency workers. People coping with many weeks of threat and uncertainty, people evacuating two, three, five times, refugees taken in. People piecing their lives back together, others supporting them in whatever way they can, floods of donations. In so many ways we have shown how we work together in adversity. Australians are not unique in this way, most people pull together when times are dire, but it’s a feature of human behaviour that we might be more mindful of.

It would be nice to report also how our parliament quickly put aside rivalries and worked to do whatever it could to support communities and emergency organisations in a time of great need.

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Scott Morrison is utterly incapable of leading us through this crisis

Scott Morrison is quite unable to address our existential crisis because of his political and religious beliefs, his shallow marketing mentality, his ignorance, his sociopathy, his corruption and his colossal incompetence. 

We’ve all seen the ineptitude: a politician, fish out of water, hands in pockets, turning his back on a distressed woman asking for help, reaching awkwardly to try to shake an unwilling fire fighter’s hand, then running from a hail of heckling and driving away from a traumatised community.

But the incapacity of this Prime Minister goes much deeper: through failure to understand, reluctance to acknowledge, outright psychological denial, sociopathy, incompetence, corruption and the near-complete capture of a government by vested interests.

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Can labour parties reform, or will they drag their societies down with them?

[Published 5 Jan as The Keating and Blair consensus has failed at Independent Australia]

Another election lost by labour, this time in Britain. The Blairites have their long knives out and will no doubt fight to drag the UK Labour Party back to the right. The Australian Labor Party is still gasping like a stunned mullet after its own loss, with no indication that it can manage anything beyond continuing to pander to anyone who might still reluctantly give it a preference. With their focus on tactics and personalities, most politicians and commentators miss the big news.

Neoliberalism has failed, comprehensively.

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