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Tag: Government

Government Scandals

28 March 2021

James Dupres has put together this interim list of scandals by this Federal Government. It is still expanding, but a valuable resource for those who want to recall what has been happening. We look forward to his articles.

May be an image of text that says "In Alphabetical Order. AdaniRail HawaiiHoliday AgedCareCss HelloWorld APSOutsourcing HillsongFunding Funding Asylumgate Icaregate AuPairs IndueCard BankingCommission JobkeeperKept BarrierReefgate Juvenilel Detentio BrittanyRape MurdochPayout BushfireAbandonment NBNgate Cash4Visas INTGrants Chinagate Paladin Chris tianPorterGate PalmerJetGrant Parakeeliagate QAnonConnection RoboDebt RubyPrincess SercoFraud ServeGateCharity SportsRorts StafferAbuse Submarinegate Taylorgate Vaccine VaccineBotched Botched Watergate [Firesga Furnitur Grants GrassLandsGate GrassLan Can't for the life of me figure out why the LNP are not long dead and buried by all this?"

Here are the references for the topics!

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The Answer to our Problems is not More Religion

27 March 2021

Here is an article in the AIM, drawing attention to the political savvy and militancy of the Christian Right. They have been historically powerful with tax deductible status since the Middle Ages. In the 1960s they got State Aid (i.e.subsidies) to religious schools, and this has allowed them to take an ever greater percentage of the children, effectively entrenching an elite class.


The well-off have ‘choice’ and those who are residual do not, so rather than schools unifying a childhood experience they create two sets of parallel but different experiences in two different groups, and those in the privileged one will grow up with little concept of the other as they inherit the right to rule over it. The organised religions consciously going for temporal power will accentuate this, and the idea that you hide your religiosity until you have power is no less than deceitful.


Religious people behave no better than others. All this in Parliament House has been with a Christian cabinet in control of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and the priggish piety that surrounds sex with guilt and makes adolescence that much more difficult has made no positive contribution. It is likely to obstruct the sex education that seems the best way to tackle the situation.


Edmund Burke said ‘The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing’. And Richard Dawkins said more recently that atheists have to become more militant. Amen to that.

https://theaimn.com/mere-men-are-not-godly-beings/?fbclid=IwAR3uGlSDPeKaHwCLDlEk3m9GWiuzXByP6JPboue2I-ceQchwMl4kWUcBGlo

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The End of Scomo?

26 March 2021

We have heard so many stories about bad treatment of women in Parliament, that each one now becomes just become one more and focus has shifted to the government’s response.

Prime Minister Morrison has been hugely criticised for his response, which now belatedly includes thanking rape victim Brittany Higgins for bring up the subject.  SMH 26/3/21.

Having protected Christian Porter he is now considering a cabinet reshuffle, which supposed moves Porter but does not sack him.  This is unlikely to placate criticism, and the criticism may eventually threaten his own position. SMH 26/3/21

The talent pools seems quite shallow with over-religious people, but Treasurer Josh Frydenburg seems the most likely and is apparently replete with ambition.  He has experience in banking, law, and international relations.  A son of Jewish post-war refugees, he was educated in Jewish private schools and is very pro-Israel.  It is rumoured that Lachlan Murdoch would like to see the change from Morrison to Frydenburg, which may give the Liberals a better chance in next year’s election. 

Morrison has concentrated all the attention for this government on himself, so it he goes the Libwrals can pretend that there have been big changes.  There is a lot of precedent for this as a successful tactic.  When Abbott won the 2013 electi0on and quickly became unpopular, he was replaced by Turnbull, who managed to turn the tide just long enough to win the 2016 election.  Turnbull was powerless within his party and when this was perceived, the Liberals again crashed in the polls, but Morrison replaced Turnbull and they won again in 2019.  Now if Frydenburg replaces Morrison, Labor remains lack-lustre, COVID recedes helping an unexpected recovery, can they win a 4th time?  No doubt that is the Liberals hope.

Morrison’s track record may come back onto focus.

www.michaelwest.com.au/scott-john-morrison-where-the-bloody-hell-did-he-come-from/

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Murray-Darling Farce- Another Summit.

19 March 2021

One of the more absurd ideas of neo-liberalism was to privatise ownership of all the water in the Murray-Darling and then rely on ‘the Market’ to allocate the water optimally. All that happened was that water was another commodity to be traded with its price more related to its possible future price than any physical or environmental constraint.

I learned a bit about this many years ago from my grandparents. One of my grandfathers was a retired metallurgist who would tell me about world trends in metal demands and buy shares accordingly. His wife, my grandmother, knew nothing about this but would buy shares based on what the market was doing and tell me separately about how she despaired of my grandfather’s share investments. After a few years, she was much richer than he from a much lower base. The moral was that the share price had little to do with reality.

Why anyone would think that turning water into a speculative commodity would optimise its use is beyond understanding. But that was what happened. Joh Bjelke-Peterson built Cubby dam on the Queensland border and used the water to irrigate cotton, so NSW was behind the 8 ball from the start. NSW cotton farmers used surface water and took water from aquifers with no supervision of their meters. Brokers with mobile phones bought and sold water entitlements, and famously recently a Singapore-based company sold a lot of water rights to a Canadian superannuation fund, who felt that growing almonds (which are heavy water users) would be a good thing to do. (SMH 3/12/19) Hey, the price of almonds is good at present and you cannot smell rotting fish from Canada.

The idea that if you fix the money, everything else will come right seems to permeate every aspect of our neo-liberal, managerial society. I think of it as a religion, that ‘the market knows best and will allocate optimally with the unseen hand’. It also seems that religious folk are more prone to believe this, happier to believe that an unseen force can magically fix things and that it morally worthy to suffer now for some future redemption.

But in politics, we do not even have to debate these things; there is another option, ‘kick the can down the road’. Having the CSIRO produce a report in 2008, ‘Water Availability in the Murray Darling Basin’, led to an inappropriate Murray-Darling Basin Authority report in 2009. The CSIRO’s scientific response in 2011 was ignored. There was a Royal Commission inquiry by Bret Walker which found that the Authority has shown ‘gross negligence’. So they had another ‘Summit’, just last month.

All this is not to mention that Angus Taylor spent $80 million in taxpayer money to buy back water rights from a company called Eastern Australian Agriculture registered in the Cayman Islands and run by an ex-rowing mate, with the deal signed off by Barnaby Joyce. (The Guardian 19/5/19)


It is a worry, when the senior counsel assisting Walker inquiry writes a book called ‘Dead in the Water’ and still comes back with an opinion piece like this.

www.smh.com.au/national/murray-darling-basin-summit-a-laughable-response-to-finding-of-gross-negligence-20210318-p57brq.html

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Mutual Obligation and ‘Noblesse Oblige’

18 March 2021

‘Mutual Obligation’ is the new buzz word for unemployed people.  If they are to get ‘welfare’ they have to be trying to get a job.   An index of this is to make a lot of job applications, that surely must be the bane of every employer in the land, with an obligation of job seekers to apply for 20 jobs a month and about 8 job seekers for every vacancy.

‘Noblesse Oblige’  is a French term dating from when English royalty spoke French after the Norman conquest (of 1066)  and refers to the benevolent, honourable behaviour considered to be the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank.  The term is so quaint and medieval that is often used ironically. But these days with the growing gap between rich and poor, and the lack of sanction on poor behaviour by the empowered class, it may be that old fashioned ethics is all that remains to help poorer people. And they are in short supply.

If there were mutual obligation, a government would be obliged to give its citizens a decent life.  In the 1950 and 1960s it was considered a government responsibility to get everyone a job and governments fell if the unemployment rate was over 1%.  In the 1980s when I worked at Sydney Water, it ran employment programmes for ex-prisoners, people who had been unemployed for more than 3 months, and people with disability.  The employment was for a 6 month term, and my job was to check that applicants were physically able to do the job.  There was a programme to separate sewage and rainwater in inner city areas and a pipe replacement programme.  Both of these programmes were simply canned.  The Apprentice School, which had about 180 apprentices including plumbers, electricians and carpenters was closed.   Sydney Water’s staff went from 17,000 to less than 3,000, and all the wages saved were simply turned into ‘dividends’ from the State Owned Enterprise’.  A tax in short.  Contractors were used, and mains repaired when they burst.  The government had out-sourced the work and outsourced the responsibility for employment.  The latter was less obvious. 

The Global market place that was created in 1944 to lessen the chance of wars allowed countries that produced things cheaper due to cheaper labour costs to prosper, and multinational corporations moved their factories.  The Americans call it ‘off-shoring’.  But our governments have acted as if none of this exists. An abstract entity, ‘The Economy’ is now responsible for job creation and unemployed people are responsible for getting them.  The government has outsourced job seeking to private corporations, and as we know, their duty is to make as much money for their shareholders as possible.  So if it is better to churn many people through short-term jobs to get a commission every time someone starts, hey that is the way to go.  So it is about how the rules are written.  If the old CES (Commonwealth Employment Service) clerks could find someone a job they did.  No one complained that they did not try to place people, and there was no incentive for them to do anything other than to try to place people in the best way possible.

I work with the Workers Compensation insurer, iCare, whose remit seems to be to minimise the cost of claims by saving on both claims managers and payments to injured people, and they are still paid a bonus if the ‘customer’ (i.e. patient) gets back to work, so there is pressure to force them back.  The CTP insurers are always in a total conflict of interest position. They get the premiums and every dollar they avoid paying out goes to their bottom lines.  The idea that a private market will fix things is complete nonsense.

Now we have revelations of gaming the system in the privatised job placement agencies.  The whole dismantling of the public system relies on the assumption that people will not work without incentive payments and private is always better than public.  I was in the public sector for many years as a salaried doctor and then in Sydney Water.  My experience was that the public sector did its job quite well and thought about better ways to act, undistracted by incentive schemes that would distort resource and time allocation.  The Dept. of Public Works built most of this state; Sydney Water built Warragamba Dam.

Privatised rorting is now a major industry draining resources from CTP insurance, Aged Care, the NDIS and now job search. This is not to mention over-priced private monopolies in toll roads, transport, land titles office or oligopolies gaming electricity supplies.

Will there ever be a government that rebuilds the public sector to put an end to this?  Will Labor just roll over as Liberal Lite as they did to get an extra $3.50 on ‘JobSeeker’?

But the key issue is that everyone has the right to decent life, and if the government cannot provide jobs, it should provide income support.  Noblesse Oblige.  As one of my more insightful friends said, ‘There is no shortage of work. Everyone I know can think of things that need doing. It is not a shortage of work, it is an unwillingness to pay’.

Watch this video re the privatised employment agencies.

https://nsfuw.com/?secure_token=8fb90d8862532ccff17c55370720566372b28b851af78200f9c4a13b9171c28e&t=GZ1ZJT09R&utm_campaign=Expose_predatory_job_agencies&utm_content=30518&utm_medium=email&utm_source=blast
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Ex-Solicitor-General Calls for Inquiry into Porter’s Rape Allegation

14 March 2021

The former Solicitor-General, Justin Gleeson has made the case as to why there needs to be an investigation into Katherine Thornton’s rape allegation against Attorney-General, Christian Porter.

The mechanism for this would be that Morrison should ask the Solicitor-General for advice as to the situation.  This Morrison has so far declined to do. 

Interestingly, Justin Gleeson was highly respected Solicitor-General who resigned in 2016 after a very public argument with the then Attorney-General George Brandis, when Brandis wanted all referrals to the Solicitor-General to go through his office.  Gleeson felt that this was restricting his freedom to give advice and effectively politicising his office.  Prior to Brandis’ restriction he had made a statement about the legality of refugee legislation. (Guardian 24/10/16)  The Prime Minister not asking the Solicitor-General now and the Solicitor-General not making a statement does sound like the same issue.  Brandis, like Porter, was also accused of making poor appointments (of political party hacks) to judicial bodies. 

In terms of the reasons for having an inquiry into the rape allegation, this opinion is as good as it gets.  At least as an ex-Solicitor-General, Gleeson can speak publicly.

www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-09/christian-porter-historical-rape-allegation-gleeson/13229880

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Scathing PWC Report Finds Perottet’s iCare Incompetent

6 March 2021

A 100 Page report by consulting from international PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers ) found weakness in performance and governance, and the Board did not hold management to account. 

We might also consider that the Minister, Dominic Perottet did not hold the Board accountable, and appears to show no interest at all in the injured people for whom the whole scheme supposedly exists. We might note that no doctors or patients appear to have been interviewed either- Hey, it’s all about money you know!  One could ask why PWC did a report when Justice McDougall was simultaneously doing one that it coming out in April?  Perhaps he is a lawyer and does not know enough about money.

The bottom line is that it was run from the top by people who only knew about money with little input about its proper function from the people at the coal face, who presumably should have some knowledge of the people that they are supposedly helping.  (I say that with reservation, as the case managers that I deal with have high turnover, little insight and seem to assume that a large percentage of their cases are fraudulent, the doctors are hell-bent on inventing pathologies to over-treat and they have to follow elaborate protocols designed to ensure that no one could under any circumstances get one cent more than was absolutely necessary).

So we digest the Management-speak of this report and await the McDougall report which had terms of reference that allowed little input from patients or doctors, held no hearings and seemed to exist principally to take the heat off the Minister from last August until its April release.

It seems that there has been a generic concept since the 1980s that managers know best, that other degrees and knowledge from lesser beings or lesser ranks and incomes are not of value or to be listened to.  It has come unstuck in so many situations that its time that some little boy (or girl) points out that ‘The Emperors have no Clothes’.  Then we can go back to an older time, where people had appropriate training, worked their way up, knew their jobs, were promoted on merit and had small salary increments reflecting their incremental status rise.  But I suppose that this would rely on people having permanent jobs and depower the whole new managerial class and their symbiotic consultants and reduce the workplace ‘flexibility’ that allows the obscene salaries at the top and insecurity at the bottom. 

If Anglo society does not want to fall to more realistic societies in Germany and Asia, there needs to be a large rethink of the Harvard 1980s management nonsense that is the foundation of these sort of debacles.

www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/scathing-icare-review-finds-a-need-for-cultural-change-20210301-p576tq.html

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Governments are Simply Bought

3 February 2021

As we observe a seemingly endless litany of government decisions that are not just bad, but are totally against the public interest and wants, we might wonder why. Are politicians less principled than formerly?  Are they of lower calibre?  Is it just all about marketing?

Some long-term trends have to be looked at. At Bretton Woods in 1944 world leaders considered how to lessen the chance of future wars.  The two world war had been because emerging powers  needed markets that were closed to them. So ‘Free Trade’ was the cry that would allow the world to benefit from the free movement of goods from the places that produced them most efficiently to where they were wanted. Governments would not be able to get in the way. This trend has increased, helped by technologies in transport that have lowered freight costs.  Countries that have done well have risen, countries that cannot get a premium on their products have gone down.  But multinational companies have been able to evade taxes and develop oligopolies that allow super-normal prof its.  Multinational companies are now richer than many countries, so governments’ power has hugely lessened in relation to these companies.  So the companies often tell the governments what to do rather than vice-versa. Really good people used to go into government with a vision for their country’s future.  Now these people often go into business, raising the question whether our politicians are second tier.  Marketing is also much more sophisticated, and targeting is very important. Once it is recognised that what determines an election is a few percent in a few seats, the question is how to change those few minds.  So research and election donations become critical.    I have spoken to Ministers who seriously believe that they cannot oppose the industries that are the key players in their portfolio area. And if they believe that, that will certainly be the outcome.

Decisions like the inability of Australia to oppose the coal industry in the Climate ‘debate’, to avoid fracking when the gas industry sold gas on the assumption that it could frack for more, cal mining under dams, property development that sells iconic museums or demands higher dam walls are examples of governments doing what monied donors want.  But the pork-barrelling to ‘look after our own’ is a new low in political behaviour.  It has been coming for a while. 

When I was in Parliament I followed up the award of a contract for disability services in the Hunter region, which had not gone to the incumbents who had been considered to be doing quite a good job.  Investigations showed that there had been an exemplary selection process done in the public service, with the incumbent narrowly winning from another provider in the area, both with scores in the high nineties .  The contract went to another tenderer with a score in the 50s. Scrawled across the file was a minder’s note, ‘This one more innovative- support them’.  The Minister did. The minder went off to be CEO of the winning tenderer.  The unsuccessful tenderers withdrew in disgust.  Sadly, this did not come out for some time, so the successful tenderer was then established and the unsuccessful downsized so the decision could not be reversed.   Someone in the office was temporarily stood down.  It was an example of Ministers over-riding neutral selection processes, which is now so commonplace that Gladys Berejeklian assures us it is normal and the Federal government also acts as if this is so. Perhaps soon there will no public service process at all; why bother making potential trouble?

So with government believing that they cannot act against vested interests and also able to buy power with marketing money, it is hardly surprising that industries donate, especially when there is nothing stopping them.  Ministers who are not particularly clever, but have good party connections can also leave politics for lobbying positions in the industries that they formerly were responsible for, having contacts in both the government and the responsible Departments.

As the power and the image of politicians fall, so do party numbers allowing more branch-stacking and nepotism.  Some years ago, Christians, noting their numbers falling in the census made a huge effort to get into the political system to maintain their privileged tax deductible status and school system, so now they are represented in Cabinet way more than in society in general. So there is yet another strong lobby within the system- the religion industry.

These problems are part of long-term trends with technological and economic drivers.  My own view is history is driven by these forces more than by anything governments want to do.  Politicians now have a career structure where their interests are different from the public interest and this will never be reconciled.  So we need a new conceptual framework.  The power must be taken from the politicians and given back to the people.  The government of Switzerland acts similarly to ours except that there are more political parties sharing power, so there is never an absolute majority with governments able to do whatever they like.  More importantly, the people have plebiscites quarterly at Federal, Canton (State equivalent) and local levels.  If there is enough signatures, an issue is put to plebiscite and the result is binding on governments. Legislation can be overturned if the petitions get enough signatures within a statutory time.  So governments govern, but remain aware that they cannot do what they like.  Politicians are all part-time and keep their jobs, which are also their post-parliament continuing careers.  They are also limited to 2 terms, so that they do not have a political career structure that they can put ahead of the public interest.

It is time to change the constitution to lessen the power of the governments.  Restricting political donations should be tried, but I watched as people tried to stop the tobacco industry buying influence. When TV ads were banned, they had ‘sponsorships’ around the grounds and it took 26 years to get rid of these as sponsored sport sang for its supper. Ethnic clubs, Sports Foundations, Rescue boats, Charities, disabled groups; all manner of potential lobbyists were gifted and sang for their supper or donated in kind.  If someone has money and wants to help you, and you want to be helped there are a million ways to get around impediments. Those who think a donation limit will stop the problem are frankly naïve, though I am not saying it should not be done.  It establishes a principle at least, so that we can chase the avoidances.  But more substantial change is needed, a new constitution to lessen the power of Parliaments on the Swiss model.

www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/hidden-donations-highlight-grave-weakness-of-australian-democracy-20210131-p56y70.html

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Welfare Repayment for Some- Nick Scali Optional?

6 February 2021

We all saw the callous and incompetent saga of Robodebt, where the tax database and the welfare database were imperfectly matched, the welfare recipients were accused of understating their incomes and put in the unenviable position of having to prove that they system was wrong, as their support payments were cut to below survival level.

Now we see some companies who are doing very well getting Jobkeeper and being asked politely if they would mind paying it back.

Nick Scali, the furniture retailer has done very well out of the lockdown as people still at home and working, with forced saving on their out of home recreations have upgraded their furnishings.  His profit has risen 99% to $40 million, and the share price  from $3 to $10.51 in the last 12 months.  The dividends are up 60%.  Nick Scali as the major shareholder with 13% of the company will make $4.4 million personally.  The company has received $3.5 million in Jobkeeper payments, so Labor MP Andrew Leigh has asked that it be repaid.  Of course, Scali has done nothing illegal and has taken money that companies were entitled to.  But the Government which is so careful and niggardly when it comes to poorer people getting money is totally silent on this situation. They are very thorough when it comes to giving out Jobseeker or any type of pension, yet seem unable to restrict much more generous handouts to business, let alone having a mechanism to get it back.   The stockmarket profit reporting season is just starting so we are likely to see many more examples of this.

The only explanation I can find is ‘For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’ — in Matthew 25:29, Revised Standard Version.

www.smh.com.au/business/companies/nick-scali-s-profits-double-in-covid-boom-triggering-dividend-bonanza-20210204-p56zfl.html

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