You saw it here first

Earlier this year I posted a blog

If Abbott falls, Morrison will be Prime Minister

Now the Liberal party rumour machine is catching up

Controversial former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella has dubbed Social Services Minister Scott Morrison the “next conservative prime minister of Australia” during a fundraiser that has set tongues wagging.


Mirabella made the statement at a fundraiser, which Morrison attended, designed to set her up to challenge for the seat she lost to ndependent Cathy McGowan in the last election.

As I argued, the right wing of the Liberal party is clearly getting ready for Tony Abbott’s demise and gearing up to block any attempts by Malcolm Turnbull to take the leadership.

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More examples of the need for the reintroduction of public flogging

In December 2013, I posted a blog entitled The case for the reintroduction of public flogging.

I am a gentle soul so I moderated my argument to placing offenders in stocks where they could be pelted with rotten vegetables and generally humiliated.


Now we have a number of candidates for whom this punishment would be particularly appropriate, in the light of the proceedings at IBAC.

Top education department officials directed large sums of public money into the bank accounts of specially chosen state primary and secondary schools, then used the funds to pay for allegedly corrupt $2.5 million contracts to family members or for crates of wine and expensive coffee machines.

Candidate 1

Jeff Rosewarne

Jeff Rosewarne

Jeff Rosewarne was the secretary of the Department of Education, no less, and the apparent ringleader of a group that appears to have misappropriated funds meant for  Victorian public schools and used them for lunches, overseas trips and various forms of high living.

Candidate 2

Nino Napoli

Nino Napoli

Napoli was a senior Department official who  apparently encouraged his son to lie about his involvement in the scam at the  IBAC inquiry. He’s since been sacked.

There will be a sorry procession of the people who  appeared to have shamelessly used funds meant for the education of children in public schools to fund their own profligate lifestyles.

This procession will include Raffaele Napoli, former Essendon North Primary school principal Michael Giulieri, John Fawkner College principal Gus Napoli, Daniel Calleja and a  former senior department official, John Allman.

So what should we do with them?

Public stocks in Federation Square for the term of their prison sentence. Supplies of rotten vegetables and animal faecal matter to be left provided for  public school children to hurl as required.

Prisoners to be released daily for community service work.

Prison sentences to be converted to  said community service, to be spent cleaning toilets in state primary and secondary schools. Payment for said community service at normal cleaning rates.

Community service to continue until the entire debt of $2.5 million is repaid.

And many would think that be getting off lightly

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A wake-up call from political Lala land

You have to hand it to Clive Palmer, he’s like a rat up a drainpipe when it comes to jumping on the bandwagon of a popular issue:

Police officers who endanger Australians’ lives by tipping off their counterparts in countries where the death penalty is used would face up to 15 years’ jail under legislation to be introduced into Parliament by Clive Palmer.

 Clive Palmer: another day, another headline

Clive Palmer: another day, another headline

This looks attractive at a superficial level. There is justifiable outrage at the revelation that the AFP may have contributed evidence that led to the conviction of the Bali 9.  And Clive has got his name up in lights tapping into this outrage.

But the issue is a slightly more complex one.

If Australia has a prohibition on providing information to countries about crimes for which that country has the death penalty, then members of the AFP are likely not to provide it. However, they will provide information for other (presumably lesser) crimes that do not carry the the death penalty.

Is this a “get out of jail free” card for drug traffickers?  Well, it certainly looks like it.

The other difficulty is that police forces regularly exchange information with international colleagues. This helps local authorities deal with international crime rings, some of which are becoming particularly influential in Australia.

If we decide to limit the flow of information to the Indonesian authorities (And other countries that carry the death penalty), then it is likely that they will return the compliment.

If the principle is widely applied then the number of countries with whom Australia co-operates will be slightly smaller.

It’s a bit like withdrawing the Australian ambassador to Indonesia. Good for public consumption at home, not much use in a practical sense.

And as an afterthought and in the light of all the protestations from the Abbott Government there is this:

In 2010, Labor’s then minister for home affairs, Brendan O’Connor, included Australia’s opposition to the death penalty in his official ministerial direction to the AFP. 

The 2010 ministerial direction said the minister expected the AFP to “take account of the government’s long-standing opposition to the application of the death penalty, in performing its international liaison functions”.

In May 2014, Justice Minister Michael Keenan issued a new ministerial direction that removed the instruction. The 2014 ministerial direction includes no reference to the death penalty.

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Tony Abbott’s rhetoric on the Bali executions

Tony Abbott’s rhetoric is informative.  Here is a quotation from the SMH:

“I absolutely understand people’s anger,” Mr Abbott said. “On the other hand, we do not want to make a difficult situation worse and the relationship between Australia and Indonesia is important, remains important, will always be important, will become more important as time goes by. So I would say to people yes, you are absolutely entitled to be angry but we’ve got to be very careful to ensure that we do not allow our anger to make a bad situation worse.

The extract contains a linguistic trick that Abbott uses often.

“I absolutely understand people’s anger,” which is then repeated in a slightly different form  “So I would say to people yes, you are absolutely entitled to be angry (but…)”

First there is an attempt to show empathy with people (I’m not certain that splitting an infinitive is the best way of doing this, but then I’m a pedant)   “I absolutely understand”.

Then he repeats himself, a technique he uses a lot and adds an extra layer of empathy  “So I would say to people yes”. He frequently uses the empathetic touch as a lead-in to explaining why he is not going to show any empathy whatsoever.

In between these two attempts at Abbott-esque empathy comes the kicker “Indonesia is important, remains important, will always be important, will become more important as time goes by.”

A simple word count: 19 words empathy, 59 words of why we shouldn’t be empathetic. That’s a 1 to 3 ratio of empathy to realpolitik.

 Tony Abbott weighs his options on the Bali executions

Tony Abbott weighs his options on the Bali executions

Tony Abbott is between a rock and a hard place on this issue.  Indonesia is a sovereign state and has the right to decide what penalties it hands out to people convicted in its criminal courts. It has opted for the death penalty for a number of crimes including drug-trafficking and there is very little that Australia can do to change the situation, either in specific cases or in general.

Indonesia is not alone in its use of the death penalty. Thirty-two countries have the death penalty for drug smuggling, according to Harm Reduction International (HRI), a drug-focused NGO. All but four (America, Cuba, Sudan and South Sudan) are in Asia or the Middle East.

China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United States, Yemen, Pakistan and North Korea have executed the most prisoners for drug offences. When you look at the list, Australia is diplomatically cosy with a number of these countries.

For all the outrage executions have engendered the world over, decapitations are routine in Saudi Arabia, America’s closest Arab ally, for crimes including political dissent—and the international press hardly seems to notice. In fact, since January, 59 people have had their heads lopped off in the kingdom, 

And the Australian Government is not going to start making waves with one of its allies in the “war against terror” in the Middle East. But you wonder if the soldiers serving overseas look at what’s going on in Saudi Arabia and wonder what they’re actually doing  over there.

Naturally enough, people feel very strongly when their own nationals are executed overseas for a crime that does not carry the death penalty at home.  Especially when they are executed in a country that the Prime Minister has been endeavouring to construct a “strong relationship” with.

Clearly the strong relationship doesn’t include the Indonesian, President Joko Widodo, intervening in his country’s legal processes.


Jokowi “Expect me to do what?”

And in fairness, we wouldn’t expect Tony Abbott to intervene in Australia’s legal processes and overturn due process at the behest of an overseas power.

So the hard facts of the matter are that while Australians are appalled at the use of capital punishment, the government has very little power to influence judicial decisions in countries that use the death penalty. And, it would appear in the case of Indonesia, that what Tony Abbott may see as a “strong relationship”, doesn’t add up to much in this case.

And we do need to keep in mind, as no doubt the Indonesians do, is that we have a bad track record on Indonesian sovereignty. In January 2014, Australian warships’s “strayed” into Indonesian territorial waters.

And then there was the time  (2013) when that the Australian Signals Directorate attempted to monitor the mobile phone calls of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife Kristiani Herawati, and senior officials.

Yet, in the light of the way that the Indonesian government has treated the Australian government over this particular issue, it’s likely the most Australians would wonder why we try so hard with the Indonesians.

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A message from economic Lala land

 the Economics Editor for the The Age commented on a report

Means-testing the family home could boost pension incomes

Matthew Taylor from the Centre for Independent Studies and one of the authors of the report to be released on Monday said

“It could be popular if it’s explained carefully,” said . “Pensioners would have to overcome their emotional attachment to their homes. They would need to see that they are not just places to live, but untapped assets.”

The idea is to use reverse mortgages to encourage retirees to  borrow against their homes  to cut their access to the pension.  I’d like to see the explanation that would convince pensioners to do this.

The centre believes the changes would force 70 per cent of full pensioners on to the part-pension and between 24 per cent (singles) and 32 per cent (couples) off the part-pension altogether.  And I’m sure that they believe that this would not cause incredible hardship for the oldest of our citizens.

Of course not, they just have to sell the home they’ve lived in the last 50 years.

His idea that pensioners living in houses with a high capital value should be either forced to sell them or re-mortgage to reduce their access to the pension must be coming from someone who has never met such a pensioner.

There are lots of them in my street. They are predominantly Greek migrants, in their late 80s and living in the house they bought when they came to Richmond and where they raised their families.

Most of them live in single or double fronted workers’  cottages which they purchased when Richmond wasn’t trendy or expensive.  Many of their houses would be worth around  or upwards of $1 million on the market today, more if it has been renovated.

These are not rich people,  they drive old 1970s models Holdens and many of them are on the pension.  They worked hard all their lives often jobs were not particularly well paid but they were diligent savers and encouraged the children to be the same.

Many of them are very pleased that they will be able to leave the children someof money when they die and when the family home is sold.

They have a thing about family and family ties.  Many of them came from villages in Greece where the family home had been passed from one generation to another for many years. It’s a tradition.

But Matthew Taylor who is a Research Fellow in the Economics Program and who has  has a Bachelor of Economics with Honours from Monash University would put a stop to all this.

 Matthew Taylor B.Ec (Hons)

Matthew Taylor B.Ec (Hons)

Take a stroll down Mary Street, Matthew.  Talk to some of the people that your policy would affect.

Actually don’t do that. It would probably be quite bad for your health.

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The Direct Action Fraud

Last night, Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt appeared on 7.30 and was interviewed by Leigh Sales who demonstrated yet again that she doesn’t have the intellectual grunt to take on even lightweights like the Minister for the Environment.

Leigh Sales:  Tries hard but not really up to the job of being the 7.30 host

Leigh Sales: Tries hard but not really up to the job of being the 7.30 host

What was more important was the nature of the announcements that the Minister made.

He announced that emissions reduction contracts worth $660.4m for businesses to prevent 47m tonnes of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, had been granted in the first round of auctions under its Direct Action climate policy.

Environment Minister Greg  Hunt:

Environment Minister Greg Hunt: “We’ll get about this much reduction from the current round of auctions.”

The deputy chief executive of the Climate Institute, Erwin Jackson, said a quarter of the $2.55bn emissions reduction fund had been spent to secure just 15% of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions needed for Australia to meet its target of a 5% cut by 2020, based on 2000 levels.

Any reasonably numerate primary school child would tell you that this is not value for money.

Yet,  Hunt said the auctions produced a “stunning outcome” which exceeded expectations. But the Climate Institute has said the first auctions showed the policy would fall well short of meeting even Australia’s “woefully inadequate” emissions reduction target.

In addition, many of the projects that were funded had been funded by the previous Labor government under the Carbon Tax that Hunt maintained (incorrectly) had failed to reduce emissions.

There’s more to come.

The average time for these projects is seven years, some of them will run for a decade. Yet, Hunt maintained that the reductions of these projects would go towards meeting the 2020 goal of 5%.

If the average for these projects is seven years, this means that half of them will still be running after 2022. Well past the target date of 2020.

Throughout the interview, his entire rhetoric was that of the achievement of these goals was a fait accompli. No hint that some might not reach their targets.

And not once did he have the decency to acknowledge the total inadequacy of the 5% target.

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A land of droughts and flooding rains.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office drove the push to provide government funding for “sceptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg’s climate think tank with $4 million in funding to establish his Copenhagen Consensus Centre methodology at UWA.

The brains behind the Lomborg decision

The brains behind the Lomborg decision

Why do you need to spend $4 million on a research centre when you know that climate change is bullshit.

You can bet that this bloke would have some better deas about how $4m  dollars could be spent.

A man rescues his horse in the  worst-ever New South Wales floods

A man rescues his horse in the worst-ever New South Wales floods

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