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Tag: Morrison

Morrison’s Minister for Everything’ Antics show Constitution is deficient

27 November 2022

When Prime Minister Morrison gave himself 5 ministries without even bothering to tell the ministers who he was over-riding, the Governor-General merely allowed him to do so.

Whether this was due to the fuss that was made when Kerr dismissed Whitlam and the upshot is that Governors-General believe that they have no right to countermand Prime Ministers I am unsure. Perhaps G-G David Hurley thought this; perhaps he wanted the PM’s support for his $18million ‘leadership’ scheme , or perhaps being military, he did not rock the hierarchical boat.

But some of us assumed that the Governor-General is head of State in order to stop political antics which are not in the interest of the Australian people. Naturally all the possible types of antics are not defined, nor presumably can anyone craft a law which bans any possible eventuality.

One is reminded of the aging President Hindenburg, who after the Reichstag fire made Hitler Chancellor and put out the Reichstag Fire Decree which Hitler used to suppress his opponents and get absolute power, even though Hitler did not have a clear majority on the floor of the Reichstag. The fire created an ‘emergency’ which was blamed on the Communists, but it is quite possible that the Nazis did it to create a crisis and enable them to take extra-judicial actions.

It is quite simply not acceptable to have a Prime Minster able to over-ride the Cabinet and take whatever powers he likes. The fact that Morrison only used this to stop a fracking project in the NT that he knew would be unpopular with the elections coming is not relevant. He could have done anything, and Hurley did not stop him.

If there is a censure motion against Morrison, this is also irrelevant. Morrison may be embarrassed and may or may not resign, but this will not stop it happening again a few years ahead. Even if Albanese arranges a law to prohibit multiple ministries, this may not help- any law can be reversed by a new government. It might also be noted that immediately after the 1972 election Prime Minister Whitlam and his Deputy Lance Barnard divided all the ministries between them and started enacting the programme that the ALP had taken to the election, merely to save time until his full Cabinet was appointed. This was consistent with the election result and seemed not to arouse any constitutional issues.

If we are to continue with a head of State who is ‘above politics’ he or she needs to be able and willing to stop political excesses. We need to know that there is some mechanism to stop an individual Prime Minster giving himself or herself whatever powers he or she likes. If you think, ‘it could not happen here’ you are wrong. It just has. The powers of the Governor-General were either inadequate or unclear and were certainly not used when they should have been. I cannot see that anything other than a clarification of the Constitution will resolve the matter. It seems that Justice Bell has overlooked this issue.

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Immigration – it is Time to Clean it up.

19 November 2022

One of the legacies of the Morrison Government is a complete mess in immigration.

I grew up in Port Kembla where a huge influx of ‘displaced persons’ (i.e. refugees) from post-war Europe came to Australia and worked in the Steelworks. Initially the kids at my primary school came from the migrant hostels that had been set up in the old army accommodation, but then the NSW Housing Commission built whole suburbs to cope with the load. These were initially rented, but eventually they bought their homes.  The kids learned English, we got used to their funny names and unusual school lunches and they grew up as good Aussie kids.  

It might be noted that there was an influx of Hungarians after the 1956 uprising against the Russians there and some of those became captains of Austr;ian industry.  Australia took a lot of refugees from Vietnam, claimed it was a multicultural country and had benefited enormously from the influx of foreign talent. Paul Keating tried to fund an initiative to foster language teaching so that a large number of Australians would become bilingual, but this and the free ESL (English as a Second Language) classes were defunded by John Howard, who won an election by demonising  refugees and promising to ‘turn back the boats’  The fact that there were numerically not very many boat people and that political refugees are generally the elite  from when re they come was ignored and Australia was set on a path of not only being totally callous with refugees, but also wasting huge amounts of money on dodgy contractors and facilities.  The delays were also a disgrace.

But meanwhile other immigration developed with migration agents charging exorbitant amounts, stories of people  of dubious character buying visas, and even sex slaves. Some employers brought people in with a sponsored deal that they had to work for 2 years to then be eligible for a permanent visa, and in my own experience I saw a couple on five 12 hour night shifts a week to get this.  Many students, allowed to work only 20 hours a week and unable to live on this were paid sub-award wages, obviously dragging Australian wages down in all the casual industries.

I have tried to help a number of good people who were injured and in danger of deportation to save insurers money, and found there are many dodgy practices and practitioners, as well as a very unresponsive system.

 The current ‘labour shortage’ shows how dependent we all were on work visa and student casual labour, and the fear of industry-wide awards that are actually enforced says quite a lot about what was going on.  

At last, after a lot of publicity about sex trafficking someone is cracking down on the Industry. Hopefully, this as well as adding a lot of public servants to process the applications in a more honest way will improve the situation. 

Taskforce targets migration criminals

Nick McKenzie SMH 19 November 2022

The federal government has established a new multi-agency taskforce to target criminals exploiting Australia’s migration system after revelations of widespread visa rorting linked to sex trafficking, foreign worker mistreatment and drug crime.

Operation Inglenook is led by Australian Border Force and backed by other state and federal agencies, and will target the organised crime gangs and migration fixers exposed by Trafficked, a major investigative series by the Herald, The Age and 60 Minutes.

The taskforce is focusing on 20 migration agents with suspected links to the rorting, and one federal government-licensed agent has already been issued a notice that the Office of the Migration Agents Regulation Agency will ban him from providing migration advice.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has promised major reform to the system, and said yesterday that the new taskforce was being staffed by investigators and regulatory officials aiming to reduce rampant exploitation of the migration system.

‘‘Its goal is to disrupt the networks exposed by the Trafficked series. The taskforce includes intelligence and compliance teams to assist with an investigation into the vulnerabilities of the migration system,’’ O’Neil said.

The minister said that after years of neglect by the former Coalition government, Labor was now acting. The Office of the Migration Agents Regulation Agency was working closely with the new taskforce.

The Trafficked series cast a light on visa rorting, sex trafficking and foreign worker exploitation in Australia. Among the reports was that of a human trafficking boss who entered Australia in 2014 and built a criminal underground sex empire despite having previously been jailed in Britain for similar offending.

That crime boss, Binjun Xie, is in hiding and being sought by authorities after being exposed in the series. Border security failures enabled Xie to allegedly set up a nationwide sex network that police said moved Asian women around like ‘‘cattle’’.

Trafficked also revealed how state and federal agencies have spent years issuing confidential warnings of migration rorting involving syndicates gaming the visa system to bring criminals or exploited workers into Australia. This is facilitated by networks of corrupt federal government licensed migration agents, education colleges, fixers and people who rort the English language test.

The investigation also focused on migration agent Jack Ta, who had boasted of ‘‘cosy’’ meals with Coalition ministers and who donated more than $25,000 to the campaign fund of former Liberal assistant home affairs minister Jason Wood. Ta is suspected of repeatedly gaming the visa system to help more than a dozen drug offenders remain in Australia.

Wood was the chair of parliament’s migration committee when the donations took place and he hosted Ta on at least two occasions to dine with now opposition leader Peter Dutton when he was home affairs minister.

This masthead has also confirmed that Ta attended the launch for O’Neil’s election campaign when she was a shadow minister and bought items at an auction worth $5200. The funds were donated to a charity after Ta’s conduct was exposed by this masthead.

Authorities have linked Ta’s migration agency to dozens of unmeritorious asylum seeker claims, including at least 15 made by convicted Vietnamese drug offenders.

Earlier this month, the federal government cleared the way for an overhaul of the visa rules by naming former Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson to review the system.

The new taskforce to investigate the migration scams will complement his inquiry.

Parkinson said it was ‘‘indisputable’’ the migration system was not working.

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The Myth of Liberal Competence- 2

19 November 2022

One of the concepts I tried to advocate while I was in NSW Parliament was ‘evidence-based’ legislation.  There were many cases when an anecdote was told, and the conclusion from it was ‘therefore we need this legislation.’  It was particularly the case where there had been some crime that was in the media and the penalties were being racked up.  Despite the fact that it had generally been shown that higher penalties did not change the incidence of crime, the same response always seemed to occur.

During one of these endless debates, I suggested that what was needed overall was evidence-based legislation.  Hopefully someone would collect facts as well as they could be ascertained and that would result in appropriate legislation.  One  might have even hoped that this was the norm.  My speech resulted  in hilarious laughter from the chamber, which was naturally not recorded by Hansard.  But it said quite a lot about how Parliament thought and acted.

Another unsuccessful request I made was that the Social Issues Committee of which I was a member, and Committees generally should either do ongoing research on issues or commission a neutral outside group, such as a university department to do longitudinal studies, so that the effect of social policies could be quantified and decisions based on real world experience.  This seemed particularly necessary on vexed questions like whether it was better to take children from dysfunctional families to foster homes or to try to support the children in situ.  It was pointed out that this would change the nature and need for funding  in the Parliamentary committee system, which was obviously true, but not a reason not to try to get better information on which to base legislation.  

Evidence-based legislation was famously attempted by Angela Merkel in Germany, who was a scientist by profession and also by one of the New York mayors, with excellent results so I was encouraged to find that there are now efforts to look at Australian legislation in terms of its evidence base, though an initiative, which uses the same survey method by both the Right-wing IPA (Institute of Public Affairs) and the progressive Per Capita Australia to assess legislation.  The criteria were developed by Prof Kenneth  Wiltshire at the Uni of Qld and then applied by both groups to 80 pieces of legislation with surprisingly similar results from the two groups.

Morrison’s government did slightly worse than the NSW, Victorian and Qld State governments.  His efforts worst were; to reduce the number of people necessary to register a political party; to allow new political parties to have names similar to existing ones; and to reduce fuel excise just before the election. 

Perrottet efforts to put extra changes on electric vehicles and to massively crack down on protesters also ranked a mention.

If you look at the website above, you will note that Labor fared only a little better.

The SMH gave some publicity to this, which is how I became aware of it:

Morrison, Perrottet made bad laws: report

Shane Wright, Senior economic correspondent SMH 19 November 2022

The Morrison, Perrottet and Andrews governments all delivered laws over the past year that followed ‘‘unacceptable’’ practices and helped undermine confidence in how legislation is put together, an independent analysis has found.

A report produced for the Evidence-Based Policy Research Project found laws that changed everything from the number of people a party needed to become registered to a crackdown on protesters failed to be properly debated, opened to scrutiny and considered against other options.

Every year, the research project uses a left- and right-leaning think tank to assess the creation, debate and passage of laws passed over the previous 12 months at the federal level and across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

Experts from the left’s Per Capita Australia and the right’s Blueprint Institute bench-marked 20 pieces of legislation against 10 separate criteria.

They included whether there was a need for the law, its objectives, alternative options, how it would work, if a government considered all the pros and cons, parliamentary debate and the consultation process.

The worst-ranked piece of legislation by both think tanks was the Morrison government’s change to federal electoral law that increased the number of members a party must have to be registered to 1500, from 500. It also stops a party that has a similar name to an existing party from being registered.

Of the 10 criteria, Blueprint and Per Capita found the legislation passed just two – that it had set objectives and that the law was properly communicated.

Five other laws were ranked as unacceptable. They included NSW’s road user charges on electric vehicles and its new laws aimed at protesters who disrupt traffic.

Two federal laws, covering the sixmonth reduction in fuel excise and changes to foreign intelligence laws, were also ranked among the poorest of the past 12 months.

The chair of the project’s governing committee, former NSW Treasury secretary Percy Allan, said faulty decision-making processes at all levels of government contributed towards corruption, misallocation of resources and waste of public money.

‘‘Having auditors-general, integrity bodies and select committees of inquiry rake over failed policies and processes does not fix the underlying problem, which is that no government in Australia consistently addresses the above questions when making policy,’’ he said.

Western Sydney University chancellor and former secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peter Shergold, said policy and lawmaking had to improve.

‘‘Having just completed a review of Australian governments’ response to COVID-19, I am utterly convinced that we cannot make good policy decisions in a crisis if we are not better practised at developing evidence-based legislation during more ‘normal’ times,’’ he said.

‘‘Assessing the diversity of short- and longer-term costs and benefits, based on… stakeholder consultation, is vital.’’

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Bribing the Governor-General?

4 September 2022

The antics of Scott Morrison were bad enough when he was Prime Minister. Since he left two journos, Simon Benson and Geoff Chambers wrote a book, ‘Plagued- Australia’s 2 Years of Hell’, about how he had 5 ministerial portfolios.

There were quite a lot of questions arising out of this.

It was not illegal, which was presumably obvious.  Who would pass a law saying ‘The Prime Minister shall not secretly give himself Extra Cabinet portfolios’?  It would not occur to anyone that this was possible. 

Also ‘Corruption’ seems to be defined very narrowly in law- someone has to make money, usually personally.  Corrupt process does not seem to count.  When I was in Parliament a whistle-blower, Nola Fraser told me about corruption in SW Sydney Area Health Service.  The first question I asked her was, ‘Do you mean someone was taking money, or do you mean that the processes were corrupt?’  She said, ‘No, its not about money, they are just killing people by pushing complaints sideways. They are supposed to be helping people, but they are doing the opposite’.  So I helped her and we had an inquiry  into SW Sydney AHS. Then ICAC got on the case and had an inquiry that cost more than a million dollars, and said that she had no credibility as she had no evidence of money changing hands.  They wasted a million dollars and trashed her reputation because they used their definition of corruption and did not bother to ask hers.

So probably Morrison is not corrupt either.  The Solicitor-General did not just say briefly that it was legal, he wrote quite a lot saying in essence that was highly undesirable.

One of the journalists, Simon Benson, was the editor of the Daily Telegraph and must have known about this before the election, but chose to reveal it in a book after rather than in a news story before.  In that this would have made a lot of difference to the election and Morrison might have been defeated by even more, it is a decision that frankly bothers me. I knew Simon Benson as the News Ltd journo in the NSW Parliament when I was there. He was a Murdoch man and had nothing but contempt for the cross-bench; an interest in power rather than procedure.

The other aspect is that the Governor-General knew about it and did nothing. In that the 1975 Governor-General was vilified when he sacked Whitlam, it could be argued that Governors- General since will obey their Prime Ministers and not question them. But they are there ‘above politics’ to see that the interest of the Australian people is served, and when the unusual appointments were not announced, the Governor-General should have both known and acted on it. It is strange how little criticism he has had. I wonder if this is because this is being stored up as evidence that we need an elected President rather than a figurehead one when we become a Republic. Those who would  criticise the G-G are mostly Republicans. 

But now The Saturday Paper has a story by Karen Middleton that Morrison gave $18 million to a leadership program that was suggested by the Governor-General, David Hurley. Hurley is an ex-military man.  The military naturally do leadership training and according to two of my nephews who have been in the military do it very well.  Various ex-military types have leadership training as part of elite Management Courses which exist commercially.  But whether leadership should have a large subsidised program seems dubious to me. It sounds like an elite getting even more resources.  Church schools are subsidised and it seems just to be governments paying to increase social inequity. Surely if leaders are going to emerge, they should do so from the rough and tumble of life.  The military, private schools and Management seem more than capable of looking after their own.

So what did Hurley want, how indebted was he to Morrison, and did this have any bearing on his response to Morrison’s dubious activities in personal Kingmaking?  

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$55 Billion in grants in Federal Ministerial grants in less than 4 years!

21 April 2022

The Easter Saturday Herald had the story that Ministers have had the ability to give out $55 billion in less than 4 years, $20 billion last year alone!

Clearly this is used as a pork barrel to buy re-election and the public service and proper process has been sidelined by this government, which has set new lows in moral standards.

Morrison, when quizzed, has stated that he could not introduce an ICAC because Labor would not support his model.

There are two things wrong with this argument:

1. When did the government ever need support of the Opposition to introduce legislation?  The main thing wrong with Australian democracy is the ‘winner takes all’ nature of the debate.

2. The model Morrison wanted was so weak that all the activities that people have objected to would not have been able to be investigated, and presumably he would have stacked the toothless tiger with people who would have been hard to remove. 

Labor was quite right to oppose his model, and of course if they put in a functional one and it goes after the rorts of the current government it will be accused of being party political.

And it seems that there is $13.8 billion still to be given out between now and the election according to an article by David Crowe in the SMH of 31/3/22!

Here is the SMH article:

Taxpayers fund $55.6 billion in federal grants over less than four years

By David Crowe

Updated April 16, 2022

Taxpayers have funded $55.6 billion in federal grants over less than four years under rules that give ministers sweeping powers to decide the payments, with new research fuelling an election row over calls to establish a national integrity commission to safeguard public funds.

The findings show the grants reached $20 billion last year alone across federal departments from health to transport and industry, revealing the scale of the payments and sparking a new proposal for tighter rules and stricter oversight to prevent corruption.

The analysis shows the government issued $3.4 billion in grants in the four months after Scott Morrison became prime minister in August 2018 and this climbed to $16.9 billion in the following calendar year.

After Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to commit to setting up an integrity commission in the next term of parliament, former judges have stepped up their calls for a powerful watchdog and accused him of breaking his election promise three years ago to act on the problem.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese will sharpen the divide on the key issue of trust in politics on Saturday by pledging to pass laws this year to establish a federal integrity watchdog, with a challenge to Morrison to deliver on a promise made 1200 days ago.

“That’s 1200 days of rorts, waste and jobs for mates,” Albanese said. “Time’s up.”

The analysis of the federal spending, conducted by the Centre for Public Integrity, shows the government issued $3.4 billion in grants in the four months after Morrison became prime minister in August 2018 and this climbed to $16.9 billion in the following calendar year.

The total fell to $14.2 billion in 2020 before rising again to $20 billion last year, with another $1.1 billion spent on grants in the three months to the end of March.

“This is public money being spent, at times, without any criteria or reporting,” said Michael Barker, QC, a barrister who was a Federal Court judge for a decade after serving on the Western Australian Supreme Court.

“With billions spent in grants through the pandemic, and billions more earmarked in this year’s budget, it is time for an overhaul of the grant administration process.”

The new findings follow years of concern about the growing use of grants after criticism by the Productivity Commission and scathing reports by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) into spending on sports facilities, commuter car parks and other projects Morrison promised at the last election.

“The audit office has revealed, repeatedly, problems with the current system and particularly the way that ministers are making grant decisions,” said Gabrielle Appleby, a law professor at the University of New South Wales.

“These decisions are uninformed by expert analysis, reasons for decisions are not recorded, and there is very little transparency and therefore accountability.

“The system needs a total overhaul.”

Tracking trends in government grants is challenging, however, because the federal GrantConnect database only reports data from the beginning of 2018.

The row over the integrity commission has highlighted different opinions among the Liberals, with Morrison dismissing the idea of a “kangaroo court” but Liberal backbenchers saying there was a case for setting up the new agency this year but not in the form Labor wants.

Bennelong MP John Alexander, who is not contesting the coming election after 12 years in parliament, called for bipartisan cooperation if the party leaders could not agree on the best model.

“I don’t think it’s the worst thing if it’s being alleged that it’s very weak,” he said of the government proposal.

“Float it and see where it leaks, and as it leaks, fix it up. It would be good if it’s next term we can get it started.”

The new report, based on research by Catherine Williams at the Centre for Public Integrity, recommends that all significant grants are subject to an independent assessment, strict criteria and greater transparency about the reasons for each decision. The centre is a not-for-profit think tank, which relies on donations and is not linked to any political party.

All grant programs worth less than $100 million – the size of the “sports rorts” program at the last election – would be subject to published merit selection criteria under the proposed reform.

Programs worth more than $100 million would be subject to guidelines set out in legislation and approved by parliament, setting boundaries for ministers over what they could approve.

The reporting scheme would require ministers to tell parliament every three months about spending decisions where they did not follow department advice. As well, departments would have to table documents in parliament on all grant programs worth more than $100 million.

The Centre for Public Integrity is expected to issue its findings in coming days with a call for a national integrity commission as another element to safeguard the use of taxpayer funds.

The new report shows all grants recorded by GrantConnect including essential work by the federal government such as grants to states for health and education, with no findings about waste or corruption. The object of the report was to highlight the money at stake and make the case for greater scrutiny.

The report finds that $17.5 billion has been spent on health grants, $9.3 billion has gone on transport and infrastructure, $5.7 billion on social services and $5 billion on education, skills and employment.

In a series of criticisms of political decisions over government grants, the audit office found that “funding decisions were not appropriately informed by departmental briefings” in the Safer Communities Fund and the reasons for decisions were not properly recorded.

The audit office found that applications “were not soundly assessed in accordance with the program guidelines” in the Regional Jobs and Investments Packages and warned of “insufficient scrutiny” of proposals for a $433.4 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

It found that aspects of the Supporting Reliable Energy Infrastructure Program “did not comply” with Commonwealth grant rules and warned of the absence of published guidelines or eligibility criteria or merit criteria in the Commuter Car Parks Program under the Urban Congestion Fund.

Morrison called the May 21 election last Sunday after a federal budget that included at least $13.8 billion in programs that could fund specific grants during the campaign, separate from road and rail projects in each state.

But the Productivity Commission called five years ago for stronger oversight of transport grants because of the “relatively weak” accountability.

“With no consistent framework for allocating grants, projects made possible through such funding can be particularly subject to the political imperatives of the day, rather than determined by either the performance of roads against consistently assessed need or consistently developed service standards,” the commission said.

Warning that decisions were subject to “political suasion” over taxpayer funds, the commission called for changes to grant rules as part of a wider boost to productivity in its landmark Shifting The Dial report in 2017, most of which has not been acted upon.

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AUKUS Protest Letter- Please sign

17 February 2022

The AUKUS submarine deal is bad for Australia on many fronts.

It is bad financially as the submarines are very expensive, so we will have a lot less of them. It is bad in that they will not be available for a long time, so we will be short in the meantime.

It is of course bad environmentally as if/when nuclear submarines are sunk there will be radio activity released at random locations around the world. Technologically nuclear submarines may be more vulnerable than at first thought. Because the nuclear reactors produce heat, they raise the water temperature, which can be detected by satellites. How vulnerable this makes them remains to be tested in practice.

These nuclear submarines are long-range attack submarines, which the US have to project power- read attack Chinese shipping. We do not want to attack China, so they are not appropriate for us. We need defence submarines to operate in our more local area.

Once we have the submarines, whenever that is, we will have to build a base for them, which the US will want to use. So we will be paying for a base that makes us a nuclear target principally for the Americans’ interest. We will be locked into the US global military system.

In reality, there are now two world powers. One is rising, and one is fading. Our major trading partner, China is rising, and the other, the US, is spending far too much on military hubris, neglecting its domestic problems and its wage structure has made its industries uncompetitive. Its military-industrial complex seems to want to create tensions to sell arms, which the US economy subsidises and now relies on. This is not a good economic model for the world. For Australia to hitch its fortunes to fantasies of bygone hegemony is foolish indeed.

China is extremely unlikely to ‘invade’ Australia. They are on the east end of the world’s greatest land mass and are building the belt and road initiative to get to the markets of both Asia and Europe. Australia is a quarry and a food source and provided we trade fairly they have no need for geographical expansion down here. If they were to attack us, the US would look at its options and decide whether it could possible defend us and at what cost, and that would happen in a global context, not due to some sentimental or historic tie. We should remember what happened in WW2 when we were threatened and appealed to Britain. They sent two token battleships which were promptly sunk by Japanese aircraft off Singapore, said they would take us back when they had beaten the Germans, and declined to give us back the troops that we had in North Africa. East Timor was invaded the week after the US Secretary of State had visited Jakarta. It is extremely unlikely that the US did not agree not to interfere; they were playing a global game as might have been expected. Sorry East Timor. Sorry Australia?

On the submarines, the US got a good deal. Australia signed up for inappropriate vessels at some future date at some yet unknown price, and will have to build a base that the US can use. The British had a little glimpse of being a world colonial power again, which must have delighted the fantasies of Boris Johnson, who thinks he is the reincarnation of Winston Churchill. Australia upset the French, upset the Chinese, upset the Indonesians, locked ourselves into a dangerous alliance against our major trading partner, signed a blank cheque, and hugely restricted our future policy options, but gave Mr Morrison a few good headlines when he was looking bad politically. It was another milestone in the triumph of hubris and lobbying over sensible policy.

Since Australia already has a bad reputation for tearing up submarine contracts, we might as well use this reputation to tear up the AUKUS one. The only hope is that Labor, having won the election by being hopelessly timid, might actually be brave enough to look at the situation afresh.

Please sign the petition below.

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Morrison’s Character Analysed

11 November 2021

Sean Kelly, the SMH journalist has written a book on Scott Morrison, ‘The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison’. 

As an example he analyses Morrison’s first (maiden) speech.  These speeches are always studied as they are when a new politician states their values and objectives, hopefully unsullied by the political pressures that will come later. 

Morrison is from the Kurnell electorate, where Cook first landed.  His first speech was the day after Prime Minister Rudd had apologised to the Aboriginals. Though Morrison says ‘sorry’ to the Aboriginals, he then makes it a regret that Aboriginal children are currently disadvantaged, and says that invasions were the colonial mistake was made by every powerful nation at that time.  So effectively, the word ‘sorry’ is cheapened and the apology not worth much.  As Kelly points out, the first impression is that it is an apology, but later everyone can find something to agree with.  All powerful countries did it, so we are not guilty, and we have much to be proud of etc.  The words are crafted to appear to mean something, but overall there is no policy and ambiguous meaning.

The question now is whether the crafted releases which dominate the news will overcome the silent record of Morrison’s Prime Ministership; stoking fear of Labor, pork-barrelling and not doing much that is useful or permanent.

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Nuclear Submarines- a horrendous folly to win an election?


Many of us despair at the Morrison government;  whether it is the callous approach to asylum seekers, Robodebt and welfare generally or the naked favouring of their constituency where JobKeeper payments are not required to be repaid.  The total breakdown in ethical standards where public moneys are rorted with grants to electorates that will favour them at the polls and might even be the reason that they were re-elected. The dismantling of public service capabilities and intellectual resources with the granting of private contracts for welfare payments with the Indue card, given to Liberal-friendly companies or to compliant companies to run detention centres or Great Barrier reefs research. The lack of support for TAFE and trade skills, replaced by skilled migrants on visas that have no Medicare or income support when they became stranded, the casualisation of university teaching positions with and no support or quarantine for foreign students despite the fact that education is our 3rd biggest export industry.  It just goes on and on.

The mismanagement of the COVID epidemic in terms of being unwilling to build quarantine facilities to allow overseas citizens to return home and the lack of purchase of vaccines, and their desultory distribution practices is the current big issue that is upsetting their popularity.  They were willing to throw money at JobSeeker when it went to big business, but now that it continues and has to go to individuals they want to end welfare and will stop payments as soon as vaccination rates hit 70% of the over 16s, which is only 57% of the population.  As I have said on this page before, this is a level of irresponsibility beyond all else, justified by the idea that the economy has to go on and only the aged and sick will die.  The divisiveness and callousness of this leaves one breathless, and as it plays out it is likely to be the end of the Morrison government.

So Morrison, the master media manipulator needs a very major distraction. China is asserting itself, which is clearly a problem, but the demonising of it seems very convenient for Morrison.  The French submarine contract was not good, but it seems that the nuclear one is worse. 

We were going to get 12 conventional submarines at a cost of $90 billion, the first coming in 2034.  Now we have dumped the French contract and get nuclear submarines at a cost of either  $3.45 billion each for the US Virginia model or $2.83 billion for the UK Astute model (2018 prices).  The delivery dates are likely to be around 2040, so our old Collins class ones will be a long way past their use-by date.  

The noted defence commentator, Hugh White had a very critical piece in The Saturday Paper 18-24/9/21, teased with ‘The old plan was crazy, the new plan is worse’.    Two ex-Prime Ministers, Keating and Turnbull were both highly critical of the decision in the SMH of 22/9/21 and 29/9/21 respectively. Turnbull even spoke at the National Press Club on the subject.

The deal, dubbed AUKUS, was announced by Morrison with US President Joe Biden and UK PM, Boris Johnson.  One could hardly believe this was not some sort of parody. The old Anglo alliance, rooted in history, but totally at variance from the image that Australia since Keating had been trying to project, a country engaging with Asia. 

Boris Johnson wrote a hagiographic biography of Churchill and fancies himself as a latter day Churchill, which is absurd hubris. The UK has no power ‘East of Suez’ as was demonstrated when 2 British warships sent to defend Singapore in 1941 were promptly sunk by Japanese aircraft.  Have they done anything significant here since?

The US is playing a far more strategic hand.  Australia has been a lap dog to the Anglosphere for all its history and this changed from the UK to the US in WW2.  Even in the absence of reasonable Peace lobby in Australia one might have hoped that the debacle of the Afghanistan war would temper our enthusiasm to go all the way with the USA, but it seems not.  The US is preoccupied with China. It wanted a base in Australia.  It may be hubris for the US to set up bases to try to contain China, but that is still where their thinking is at present.   Why would Australia need submarines to go to China except as part of a US force?

Gillard was the first Prime Minister to allow US troops to be stationed in Darwin, but the US wants a submarine base.  Australia may not have been willing to let the US have such a base as it would make us a nuclear target.  So the answer was simple.  Promise to sell us some nuclear submarines.  We would then need a nuclear submarine base and to maintain our subs.  Presto, Australia is paying for nuclear submarines and a base that our ally can use.  The US will not be able to contain China, which will sadly be demonstrated when China decides to take Taiwan.  China wants to be the dominant power in the world, and it seems that the world is going to have to get used to this idea.  China is likely to want to dominate economically and technologically, so the invasion of Australia is unlikely to be necessary and we should retain our economic and technical sovereignty, but rely  on diplomacy to look after our interests.

The French conventional submarines were as fast underwater as the nuclear ones will be, but have a lower range and lower costs. The French version of these is nuclear, so one of the reasons that they were chosen was that they could be re-engined at any time with nuclear propulsion with a lower-grade uranium, which was not weapons grade.    Naturally they had a lesser range, but if the object is to defend Australia, this may not have been a problem.  Nuclear submarines can stay underwater indefinitely, but their reactors produce a lot of heat, so if they are still they leave an area of hot water, which either is or will be visible to a satellite.  So the idea that they are less vulnerable to attack may not be correct.  It is not impossible that in future submarines will be as vulnerable to satellites, missiles and drones as battleships were to aircraft in WW2.

In terms of the perception of Australia oversea there are considerable downsides to the deal. 

The Chinese representative said to Stan Grant on China Tonight on ABC TV 20/9/21 that the submarines would make Australia a nuclear target. Grant seemed indignant and said that there were no nuclear weapons- it was just the propulsion.  Presumably the Chinese representative was referring to the fact that there would be a US nuclear submarine base on Australian soil, and he assumed that Grant knew that.  It appeared that Grant had not thought it through.

The Indonesians are concerned that we have long-range submarines that we do not really need for our coastal defence and that we are firmly partisan in the US-China standoff and have brought the conflict into their area, quite apart from any aggressive intentions that we might harbour against them. The old colonial ties are all renewed- what sort of country are we, Asian or Anglo?

The French are naturally furious, and they are very influential in the EU while we are on the verge of a free trade treaty. This is very poor politics on a very big trade issue.  We have unilaterally torn up a major deal. How reliable are we?

Morrison has been seen in happy snaps with the US and UK leaders. He is appealing to his Anglophile base. He thinks this parody of statesmanship can be spun into an election victory, some say as soon as November, before the COVID debacle reaches its final stage.  If Morrison can win again it will be the last straw in taking Australia down  a dismal and unconsidered path.

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Liberal Government Backflips

30 April 2021 Morrison is running a highly Presidential style of government such that the evening news is now more like ‘What Morrison did today’. This reminds me of when I was in Parliament and would try to sell an issue to the Parliamentary media, and they would say, ‘We’ve got our NSW story for today; it is Minister X opening Y’. I would say, ‘Yes, but that is staged and not really news and there will something else staged tomorrow and the next day and you are merely a government propaganda arm’. The journalist would reply, ‘Yes, probably, but if I don’t cover that story I will get my ass kicked’. These government backflips are mainly ignored by the mainstream media because of Morrison’s media management strategy. He hold media briefings in which he says what he is going to announce the next day, so those invited can have a ‘sneak preview’. He then announces whatever it was so gets two bites of the cherry. Of course any journalist who gives an unfavourable spin risks having their outlet not invited next time, so they will just be commentators 15 hours behind the story. Here is a story from Bernard Keane at Crikey, who is one of those not invited.…/china-backflips-media…/…
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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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